Attorney Blog


PREPARING FOR EXECUTIVE ACTION ON IMMIGRATION

posted Dec. 1, 2014

President Obama announced on November 20, 2014 a series of executive actions on immigration. For families and individuals without legal status in the United States, these executive actions can be life-changing.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the executive agency charged with implementing these executive actions. DHS and its sub-agencies, particularly U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), have yet to announce complete program details regarding timelines, forms, and fees for any of the executive actions. As of this writing, no government agency is accepting any applications or requests for immigration relief.

Who is affected by executive action?

Based on the President’s announcement and memoranda later published by these government agencies, we know that the President’s executive actions will affect four main groups of undocumented individuals:

  • People who were brought to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday;
  • Parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders);
  • Spouses, sons, and daughters of lawful permanent residents; and
  • Sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.

What will executive action do?

If you fall into any one of the above categories, then you may be eligible for executive action on immigration in the following ways:

  • If you were brought to the U.S. before reaching your 16th birthday, you may be eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, even if you were born prior to June 15, 1981 and for as long as you meet other guidelines regarding continuous residence since January 1, 2010 and good moral character. Under this program, you can get a work permit valid for three years.
  • If you have a child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014, you may be eligible under the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program as long as you meet other guidelines regarding continuous residence and good moral character. Similar to DACA, under DAPA you can also get a valid work permit.
  • If you are the spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident, or a child of a U.S. citizen, and you meet the “extreme hardship” requirement, then you may be eligible for a provisional waiver of unlawful presence when you must travel abroad to adjust your immigration status.

But note that executive action will not give anyone a non-immigrant visa, permanent residency status, or U.S. citizenship. Only a duly-enacted law by the U.S. Congress can grant these kinds of visas, status, or citizenship.

When will these programs start?

According to USCIS’s website, the agency will implement these programs in a staggered manner. There are no firm dates right now, but the timeline USCIS announced is as follows:

  • The expanded DACA program will begin implementation approximately 90 days from November 20, 2014.
  • DAPA will begin 180 days from November 20, 2014, or 90 days from the implementation of the expanded DACA.
  • The provisional waivers will be available once USCIS issues new guidelines and regulations.

What can I do between now and the implementation of these programs?

If you believe you may be eligible for DACA or DAPA, you can begin gathering documents that can establish your continuous residence in the United States and good moral character. These documents can include lease agreements, billing statements for utilities, bank statements, school records, and tax returns. Do your best to gather documents that show you have been in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, which is the date President Obama announced during his speech. If you have moved during the last few years, also do your best to get the complete addresses of all the places you have lived in since January 1, 2010.

The Law Offices of Bernadette W. Connolly will continue to monitor any updates and changes to these programs so that it can effectively assist its clients with their immigration needs. Check this page regularly for updates. For more information about how this information applies to you and to schedule a consultation, please feel free to call our office or fill out the contact form on the website.


DACA Renewal Process: Early Birds Better Get Going!

posted Sept. 30, 2014

Since its initiation in June 2012, Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program has improved the lives of over 520,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States before their sixteenth birthday and who were present inside the United States on June 15, 2012. (For DACA statistics, please click here). The young people who requested and were DACA received permission to work in the United States for two years and were given assurances against deportation/removal.

Now that the DACA program has been in existence for two years, many of the earliest recipients are rapidly approaching the deadline to renew their DACA. On June 5, 2014, USCIS, the federal government agency responsible for handling most DACA applications, issued guidelines about the DACA renewal process that advise DACA recipients to apply for DACA renewal 120 days before the work permit and DACA expire. (For DACA Renewal Instructions, please see: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-process/renew-your-daca) Failure to apply 120 days before the expiration could lead to a loss of DACA because the renewal application might not be decided before the expiration date. If that happens, the DACA recipient has no lawful status until the renewal application is approved.

In addition to these negative consequences, there are many reasons to renew your DACA on time, but the two most important guaranteed benefits are:

  1. Avoiding the accrual of unlawful presence in the U.S. (or, at least, the accrual of additional unlawful presence)
  2. Maintaining lawful permission to work in the U.S.

In other words, if you were granted DACA soon after the program began back in 2012, it would be a very good idea to start the DACA renewal process ASAP. Also, if you have had any contact with law enforcement or took any trips outside of the U.S. without advanced parole, then it would be a very good idea to see an immigration attorney to discuss the renewal application.