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What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals? And, do I qualify for it?

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in New Jersey? And, do I qualify for it?

In June of 2012, the Obama administration created a new remedy for young immigrants in the U.S. with no legal status. Called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” or “DACA,” it allows immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who meet certain other requirements to apply for two years protection from deportation, as well as a permit to work in the United States. This applies to kids who were brought to New Jersey with no legal status.

Those people who can take advantage of DACA are often referred to as “DREAMers,” because Congress has been considering legislation on a similar theme known as the DREAM Act. However, it’s difficult to predict with any level of exactitude when or even whether Congress will take action on the DREAM Act legislation. The creation of the deferred action program by Obama’s administration is meant to fill in this gap.

Despite its obvious benefits it is important for those applying to know exactly what they are getting. This program does not confer amnesty, a green card, or U.S. citizenship. It simply means the immigration authorities should exercise their discretion and decline to deport an otherwise removable person who meets the criteria.

Similarly, the applicant’s family members cannot claim any right to deferred action status unless they themselves fall within the established guidelines. Parents of DACA recipients, for example, were hoping that the Obama administration, when it announced certain forms of administrative relief from deportation in late 2014, would grant them deferred-action status as well.

This did not happen, however, so parents and other family members of DACA recipients must seek other options if they are not in legal immigration status. President Obama’s announced changes to the DACA program would have gone into effect in early 2015 and would have eliminated the age limit and extended the protected period to three years; however, these new changes were challenged in court and the case is currently in front of the Supreme Court. The case is scheduled to be heard next month (April 2016).

The future of this policy, put in place by the president and not Congress, remains uncertain. While DACA may be renewed after its initial grant, there is no protection against the possibility that a later administration will alter or eliminate this program. However, the benefits are obvious for those who qualify under this program.

What does in take to qualify for DACA in New Jersey

In order to qualify under the current DACA program,

  1. You must be under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Must have arrived to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. You must have been present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of your application;
  5. You have no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  6. Currently in school, have graduated or obtained a high school diploma or GED, or is honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard; and
  7. You have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Even if you think you do not qualify for this program, there might be other forms of relief available to you. Each case is unique and you should seek the advice of an immigration attorney to understand your options. Speak to one of our immigration attorneys at Patel and Soltis today to see what your options are, and what can be done for you. Our offices are located at 121 Newark Ave., Ste 554., Jersey City, NJ.

This blog is not intended as legal advice and you should not rely upon it. You should contact a New Jersey Immigration Attorney to obtain counsel specific to the facts of your case. Please fill out the below form to speak to a Jersey City Immigration attorney, who will make time to talk to you about your specific situation.

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