Starting today, undocumented immigrates who arrived in the U.S. illegally before the age of 16 can apply to work without risking deportation. Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made forms and instructions for individuals requesting deferred action available online.
Formally known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program was announced on June 15 under an executive order signed by President Obama. Deferred action will release immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents from deportation proceedings, and will also enable them to apply for work permits. Their families will also be protected from prosecution under the new program.
Applicants can track the status of their application through the online USCIS system. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, up to 1.7 million youths may be eligible for the program. Although Obama has noted that deferred action is a “temporary stopgap measure,” rather than a path to citizenship or a permanent fix, he has emphasized that the changes will make immigration policy “more fair, more efficient, and more just.”
To apply for deferred action, immigrants must:
- Be younger than 31 as of the June 15 announcement
- Have been brought to the country before the age of 16
- Have graduated or be currently enrolled in school
- Have lived in the country continually since June 15, 2007
- Not have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor, three misdemeanors, or a felony
- Apply separately to request work authorization, which will cost $465, money used to hire staff for the program (there may be a limited number of exemptions granted)