On June 15, 2012, President Obama implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allows undocumented students and recent graduates the opportunity to work, obtain a driver’s license, build credit, and pursue a college career. Essentially, this presidential exercise of power has given many young adults who would otherwise have no choice but to face the fate of their parents as “illegal immigrants,” an opportunity at life.
The criteria for eligible DACA applicants is relatively simple: (1) the applicant was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; (2) came to the U.S. prior to reaching their 16th birthday; (3) continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 and up to the present time; (4) was physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time the application is submitted; (5) entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had lawful status that expired as of June 15, 2012; (6) is currently in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, including a GED certificate, or is honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and (7) has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security (including all violent offenses, DUIs, and any conviction carrying a prison sentence of 90 days or more).
According to Bookings Institution, more than half a million people have applied for DACA. 72% of these applications have been approved, 1% of applications have been denied, and the remainder of applications remain under review. Despite this extremely high success rate, not everyone who is eligible for deferred status has taken advantage of it. The Immigration Policy Center reports that approximately 936,000 immigrants were immediately eligible for deferred status in 2012, but only 59% of eligible individuals have applied.
So where are the other 41%? There are a variety of reasons why eligible applicants are hesitant to apply, including the difficulty in proving their continuous residence since 2007 or the lack of funds to pay the $465 application fee. If you find yourself in this position, do not lose hope. With some help, these issues can be overcome. Do not let fear or uncertainty rob you of the opportunity to better your quality of life. Just remember, these types of immigration reforms do not come frequently.
At Higbee & Associates, we have an excellent and understanding team of attorneys who can help with those issues. We have experience filing numerous DACA applications. Please do not hesitate to contact our office for immediate assistance.
Mark A. Naugle is an attorney at Higbee & Associates, a national immigration law firm. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (714) 617-8395. Please also visit http://www.immigratefast.com.
Brenda Coleman contributed to this blog post.