By Attorney Farhad Sethna © 2015
As most of you now know (unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere), President Obama announced two expansions of his original DACA executive action which was originally promulgated in 2012. On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced these two expansions as follows:
1. Expansion of DACA:
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals- for children who came to this country under the age of 16, are at least 15 years old, and have either finished high school, are in high school, or have a GED.
President Obama expanded this DACA to include people of any age as long as they met the first three requirements- entered before the age of 16, were at least 15 years old, and had a high school education or equivalent. The previous rule cut off the child’s age at 31. The new rule has no upper age limit.
The final requirement of DACA was perhaps the hardest to meet- the applicant had to prove that he or she was physically present in the USA as of June 15, 2007, and had not made any significant absences outside the USA since that date. That has now been changed- the applicant must now show physical presence in the USA since January 1, 2010.
The second part of President Obama’s executive action provides work authorization status to individuals who are parents of US citizens. There was no such category of deferred action in the past. Under the “SUPER-DACA” (my term) “Deferred Action for Parental Accountability”- DAPA, parents who have US citizen children and were present in the United States on or before January 1, 2010 also qualify for deferred action. However, the start date for SUPER-DACA or DAPA is not until some time in May, and is yet to be announced. No forms are available yet for SUPER-DACA.
ANNOUNCEMENT BY USCIS- EXPANDED DACA APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED BEGINNING FEBRUARY 18, 2015
In an announcement last week, the USCIS indicated it would begin accepting expanded DACA application on February 18, 2015. The USCIS has changed the form, but, recognizing that many hundreds of thousands of applications will be received, has allowed the old form to be used until April 20, 2015. After that date, the new DACA form must be used. The USCIS has also not made any announcement about a change in the filing fees, therefore the current fees will apply – $380.00 for the base filing fee, plus $85.00 for biometrics, for a total of $465.00.
Therefore, those individuals who qualify for DACA but “missed the boat” the first time for whatever reason may now be able to qualify for DACA.
Please be aware that there are significant restriction for DACA and SUPER-DACA eligibility, especially for individuals with criminal records which can include felonies or “significant misdemeanors”. If a prospective applicant has a criminal record, you are very well advised to seek legal counsel in order to evaluate the negative effects such a criminal record may have on your application. Even more importantly, please note that a serious criminal conviction will not only result in the denial of your application, but may result in the USCIS transferring your application to USICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to arrest you, detain you, and start deportation proceedings against you. So be very careful and consult with an attorney before you file a DACA or SUPER-DACA application if you have a criminal record.
For individuals who qualify for either expanded DACA or SUPER-DACA (DAPA), the Department of Homeland Security will provide a work authorization card valid for upto three years. With that card, an alien can then proceed to the Social Security Administration, obtain a valid, legal social security number, and using that number and the EAD card apply to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in their respective states and obtain a legal, valid driver’s license. With these documents, an alien can therefore be legally authorized to work in the United States. The EAD card is proof of employment eligibility under DHS form I-9. The valid driver’s license grants driving privileges, which is often just as critical to employment.
For further details, please see other articles on this website. Also feel free to contact our office at the address and contact information on the home page or via the contact form on this blog.
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. He is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.