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A Checklist for 'Deferred Action' Applicants

What You'll Need To Give USCIS To Get the DREAM Act Alternative


As many as 1.8 million undocumented immigrant youths could apply for “deferred action” designation from the Department of Homeland Security and its subordinate agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

President Obama’s DREAM Act alternative will allow the young immigrants to work or study in the country for two years without fear of deportation.

You can get the application forms online from USCIS.

How do you go about filing for deferred action? What do documents do you need to make your case? Here’s what you need to know and a checklist of what you need to document:

First, be sure you’re eligible to apply. What are the eligibility requirements?

  • You must have entered the United States when you were younger than 16 years of age.
  • You must have lived in the United States for at least five years before June 15, 2012. The government will overlook short trips you may have taken outside the U.S., especially trips for humanitarian purposes.
  • You must be older than 15 years old to apply. You must not be older than 30 years old.
  • You must have graduated from a high school or equivalent curriculum, or enrolled in school, or have served in the United States military and been honorably discharged.
  • You also must submit to a background check and have a clean criminal record without felonies or multiple misdemeanors. Minor traffic violations are not counted. The government wants to make sure you are not a threat to the country.

What Kind of Records You Must Produce

What kind of documents will the government require to apply for deferred action? Most important to the government is that you demonstrate that you came to the United States before you were 16, that you have lived here for five years and that you were in the United States when President Obama announced the policy on June 15, 2012.

To documented your qualifications, you will need:

  • Financial records. In some cases, utility bills or rental receipts that show where you lived and when.
  • Medical records.
  • School records. Report cards or other evaluations of your school work. High school transcripts. A diploma or a GED certificate.
  • Employment records.
  • Military records. A report of separation form the military. Your military personnel record. Your military health record. Any other military documents that show where you served and when.
  • Applicants must provide biometrics and undergo background checks. Applicants should mail their deferred action request together with an application for an employment authorization document and all applicable fees to the USCIS lockbox.

You must pay these the fees: You should expect to pay $465, which includes a $380 fee for the employment authorization application and an $85 fee for fingerprints. Fee waivers are not available. However, fee exemptions will be available in very limited circumstances.

USCIS warns applicants to beware of scammers and disreputable service providers.

Immigrants in Removal Proceedings Can Apply

According to USCIS, undocumented immigrants in removal proceedings -- people with final orders, and those who have never been in removal proceedings -- “will be able to affirmatively request consideration” of deferred action. According to USCIS:

”The process is open to any individual who can demonstrate he or she meets the guidelines for consideration, including those who have never been in removal proceedings as well as those in removal proceedings, with a final order, or with a voluntary departure order (as long as they are not in immigration detention). If you are not in immigration detention and want to affirmatively request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals, you must submit your request to USCIS -- not ICE -- pursuant to the procedures outlined below. If you are currently in immigration detention and believe you meet the guidelines you should not request consideration of deferred action from USCIS but should identify yourself to your detention officer or contact the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9 a.m.- 5 p.m., Monday –-Friday) or by email.”

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