Immigration Action for Parents – DAPA

USCIS has released  more information about President Obama’s planned executive action on immigration, which has been dubbed “Immigration Action.”

The information is here in English,  here in Spanish. The Immigration Action program will:

* Expand the number of people eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and extend the DACA program from two years to three years;

* Permit parents of US citizens and Permanent Residents to apply for deferred action as well.  Applicants must prove that they have been in the US since January 1, 2010, and have paid taxes as required.  Applicants must also pass a background check.  This program will be called  Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA);

* Expand the availability of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to spouses, sons and daughters of Permanent Residents, and sons and daughters of US citizens.  The provisional waiver program permits immigrants who have accrued unlawful presence to apply for a hardship waiver before they leave the US.

The Immigration Action initiative also has implications for individuals in removal proceedings and those currently detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  These are very case-specific provisions, but are intended to focus detention and removal efforts on criminal aliens and permit non-criminal aliens to be granted bond and possibly avoid removal.  More information here.  

For more information about what you can do now (and what you shouldn’t do yet) see my previous post.  As always, if you have questions about a specific case, contact me.

How to Prepare for Obama’s Deferred Action Immigration Initiative.


President Obama announced yesterday that he plans to make some changes to our immigration laws that would permit some undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States and get work authorization.  The changes haven’t happened yet, and we do not know exactly what they will look like.  Although Congressional Republicans are mad, I do not think they will be able to do anything to stop it.

What is happening?

It looks like the president’s initiative will:

1. Prioritize deportation of criminal aliens;

2. Permit some non-criminal undocumented aliens (parents of US citizens and Permanent Residents) who have been here 5 or more years to get permission to stay in the US and work authorization IF they pass a background check and pay back taxes. This is similar to the Deferred Action previously extended to undocumented aliens who entered as children.

3. Streamline the process for highly skilled workers to obtain Permanent Residence.

What can you do to prepare?

1. Gather your documents.  It is very likely that the new rules will require you to prove the dates that you were present in the United States.  You may need receipts, school records, bills, letters, etc. from the entire time that you have been in the US.  If you have worked in the US you will probably need to prove that you paid taxes so gather tax returns, check stubs, etc.  If you have worked and you haven’t paid taxes, you will probably have to do so.   You need a tax identification number or Social Security number to file taxes, so I am not sure how this will work.  Also, get your birth certificate and those of your parents and children (with translations if they are not in English).

2. Don’t get ripped off!  NO ONE should be taking money from you now for help with this process.  We do not know when it will begin or exactly what it will look like.  Keep an eye on the news for more details – and I will try to keep updating this site as things unfold.  If you have questions or need help, ask an immigration lawyer. NOT A NOTARIO!

3. Tell the truth.  Nothing will destroy your life in the US faster than lying to USCIS.

4. Stay informed.

What is the Obama administration’s deferred action program?

On June 15, 2011, the Obama administration announced that is would stop deporting certain undocumented immigrants, specifically undocumented immigrants who entered the US when they were children and have been here for a specific length of time – and that it would let those immigrants get permission to work in the US.

Let’s start with what the Obama administration’s deferred action is not.  It is not amnesty.  It is not the Dream Act.  It is not a path to permanent residence or citizenship.

The Obama administration’s deferred action plan is available for aliens in removal proceedings, and will be made available for aliens who are not in removal proceedings, through some type of application process with the USCIS.  We do not yet know what this will look like, or what the application process will involve.

We do know that applicants will need proof that they have been in the US for the specified time, and proof that they are in school or that they finished school.

Immigrants may apply for a two-year renewable grant of “deferred action” if they entered the United States before age 16; are younger than 30; have lived continuously in the United States for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor; and are currently in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or served in the military.

There are millions of people in the United States who were brought here by their parents as children, many of whom do not even know their home country.  We as a nation should give these individuals a chance to participate fully in this society.  The Obama administration’s deferred action plan is a small step in the right direction.  Hopefully more steps will follow.

If you need help with this or any other immigration matter, contact me.  

Do we need an attorney for our adjustment of status case?

Adjustment of status cases can appear simple, after all it’s just a matter of filling in some forms, right?

Not always.  Adjustment of status cases based upon family relationships – children, parents, spouses, etc. can be complex.  An experienced immigration attorney can help to make sure that your loved one is eligible, and can help to put forward the evidence necessary to convince USCIS to issue a green card.

But the most important reason to hire an experienced immigration attorney is because the stakes in these cases are high. In most adjustment cases, the beneficiary (the person hoping to get Permanent Residence) is out of status or will soon be out of status.  That means that if the case is denied, that person may be deported and banned from returning to the United States for up to ten years.

The most important thing an immigration attorney can do for you is help make sure that no mistakes are made. Considering the consequences that a mistake can have, it always makes sense to get professional help with your adjustment case.

You should always talk to an experienced immigration attorney before taking on USCIS by yourself.

My office is in Wilkes Barre, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  However, because immigration is exclusively federal and not state law, I can represent clients in immigration cases nationwide.

Now That You Have Work Authorization

When USCIS approves your work authorization, you may receive a Social Security number from your local Social Security office.  You should get a Social Security number immediately, even if you do not plan to work.  Your Social Security number will allow you to establish a joint bank account with your US citizen spouse, and place other assets like investments in both of your names.   Your Social Security number will also make is easier to put your name on any lease or deed regarding your marital residence, and on the title to any vehicles you and your spouse own.

USCIS considers joint ownership of assets to be an important indicator of the genuineness of a marriage.  The more joint assets and responsibilities you can show, the better off you will be at your adjustment interview.