The Department of Homeland Security has a new, expanded “deferred action” policy which will allow some undocumented immigrants to remain in the country and enjoy some protection rather than being protected. Qualified immigrants are those who:
1) Came to the US when they were younger than 16 years of age.
2) Have already lived in the US for at least five years continuously.
3) Are currently in school, or have graduated or obtained a GED. Those who have served in the military and have been honorably discharged also qualify, even if they do not meet the school requirements.
4) Do not pose a threat a national security and have not been convicted of a major crime.
5) Are 30 years of age or younger.
Immigration attorneys and immigration advocacy groups are advising anyone who may qualify for the new program to start gathering documents. Since the program has many qualification requirements and since each qualification needs to be proved for an applicant to be approved, it may be a good time to start gathering the documents needed.
The Department of Homeland Security has not even announced when the new policy will go into effect, but some immigration experts predict that qualified applicants may be able to start applying as early as August 2012. Under the new policy, qualified illegal immigrants who apply and are accepted will be able to get status to work and live legally in the US for two years. The conditional status will be renewable, although government officials have stated that the program is not amnesty.
Documents that applicants may need for deferred action include proof of schooling, military service documentation, GED certificates or school diplomas, as well as other documentation. Other documentation – such as birth certificates – may also need to be translated. Getting started on the documentation now will ensure that qualified applicants have all they need once they can start applying.
Many immigration advocacy groups and legal aid services are gearing up to help applicants once applications for the program are accepted. It is likely that some applicants will need assistance in completing their forms. Many immigration advocacy groups and legal aid services also want to warn potential applicants about fraudulent immigration experts who demand high fees for immigration assistance but then disappear overnight, leaving with the money. When policies change, these fraudulent businesses spring up and target those immigrants who need help. The Florida Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Bureau handled 563 cases this year, 10% of them dealing with unethical immigration legal services.