New changes to immigration law will extend protection from deportation to millions of immigrants currently in the Unites States illegally. A recently announced program will shield immigrants who qualify from the threat of deportation, as well as issue work permits to remain living and working in the US.
The new program expands on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which began in 2012. Under DACA, immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children (before the age of 16) could apply for the program if they met a certain criteria. Among the requirements to qualify for DACA, the immigrant had to arrive in the U.S. before June 15th 2007, has to have a certain level of education and no criminal record, had to be physically in the US on June 15th, 2012 (when DACA began), and had to be younger than 31 as of June 15th, 2012. Over one million immigrants in the US qualified for DACA, and by applying for the program could obtain a legal status that protected them from being deported.
Now, under the newly announced changes, that program has been expanded to anyone brought to the US as a child before January 1st, 2010. Under the new changes, there is no age cap to DACA, so anyone older the 31 as of June 15th, 2012 can now apply. Also, anyone brought to the US after June 15th, 2007, but before January 1st, 2010 can apply as well. This opens up the DACA program to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who otherwise didn’t qualify under the original criteria.
Furthermore, this deferred action program also applies to millions more. If you have been in the US illegally for more than five years, and have a child who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, you can now apply for a legal status and protection from deportation. Those who are accepted must first pay a fine and pass a background check, and then will be issued a work permit and could be eligible for a driver’s license. The program provides a legal status for three years once you are accepted, and can be renewed after the three years are up.
This program does not provide a pathway to citizenship and it is not like having a green card. Rather, it is deferred action, which means the government acknowledges that you are here illegally, but assures you that you will not be deported, and provides you with a work permit. And it is not permanent – it only grants legal status for three year periods. But during those periods, the threat of deportation will be removed, allowing qualifying immigrants to live and work openly in the US.
Details and a timetable regarding the application process have yet to be released, but it is expected to be similar to the DACA process. Immigration processes can be very difficult to navigate without the help of an attorney. If you are one of the millions of immigrants that could benefit from this new program, contact our office today for a free consultation to determine if this program applies to you.