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2012 08-21 deferred action for drea mers complete final final final


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2012 08-21 deferred action for drea mers complete final final final

  1. 1. The Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) presents: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals / “DREAMers”: What You Need to Know! Created by the Legal Aid Justice Center (Simon Y. Sandoval- Moshenberg, Esq.), Hogar Immigrant Services (Christie Turner, Esq.), and Ayuda (Paula Fitzgerald, Esq.) Information accurate as of 8/21/2012.
  2. 2. Objectives of this Presentation:o This presentation will: • explain the recent change in policy for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children • help potential applicants and service providers gather necessary documents and information, to be ready to applyo This presentation will NOT: • train service providers or applicants how to fill out applications for deferred action • answer individual questions about whether a certain person does or does not qualify – one-on-one consults are available after the presentation • fill out individual Deferred Action applications for filing*DISCLAIMER* This presentation is not intended as legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Every case is different and individuals should consult with an experienced attorney for advice regarding their specific situation. 2
  3. 3. What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and why now?o A brief history of the DREAM Act: the DREAM Act would provide a path to citizenship for young people who were brought to the United States as children. The DREAM Act has been introduced in Congress several times (and once had very broad support from both parties) but has failed to pass… 3
  4. 4. What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and why now?o On June 15, 2012, the President announced that he would use his executive authority to grant “Deferred Action” status to the class of children and young adults who likely would have benefitted from the DREAM Act.o On August 15, 2012, USCIS began accepting applications. The application period has begun. • No official “end date” to application period, as of yet. • Likely, will eventually stop taking new applications 4
  5. 5. Who qualifies?1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;2. Came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday;3. Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time (more than 5 years);4. Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and have not left the U.S. since that time;5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012 and do not have any current, lawful status; 5
  6. 6. Who qualifies?6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.N.B.: In most cases, must be at least age 15 to apply, unless currently in deportation/removal proceedings, or previously ordered deported/removed. If under 15 and wish to apply, see an attorney first. 6
  7. 7. What is Deferred Action, exactly?o Deferred Action is a recognition designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that gives qualified individuals permission to remain in the United States and work during a certain period of time.o Deferred Action is NOT a path to lawful permanent residence or U.S. Citizenship. 7
  8. 8. What is Deferred Action, exactly?o Employment Authorization will be granted for those who can demonstrate a need. The work permit will be valid for two years.o Approved individuals should be able to get a Social Security number after they receive their work permit.o Approved individuals will likely be eligible for a Virginia driver’s license, although there may be implementation problems, which we will continue to monitor. 8
  9. 9. What is Deferred Action, exactly?o What about college? Will deferred action allow individuals to attend a Virginia state school? How about in-state tuition?o Scholarships and grant money?o Other public benefits?o Will individuals be able to join the Army? Unfortunately, we just don’t know at this point . . . VACOLAO and other groups will be working on these issues in the coming weeks and months. 9
  10. 10. Can I travel abroad?o May apply for advance parole (which grants permission to reenter the US) only after being granted deferred action and if the individual has certain reasons for needing to travel. CANNOT travel now, or while application for deferred action is still pending.o Even if granted advanced parole, always seek advice of an immigration attorney. Travel is very risky and may not be advised for individuals who have ever been out of status.o DO NOT TRAVEL ABROAD WITHOUT FIRST HAVING BEEN GRANTED ADVANCED PAROLE! 10
  11. 11. How long will Deferred Action last?o Deferred action will be granted to eligible individuals for two years. Approved applicants who have also applied for employment authorization should be issued a two- year work permit.o DHS has said that deferred action will be renewable, but there is no guarantee that this will continue forever, nor as to how long the program will last. • Possible that, in future, program could stop accepting new applications but continue renewing current participants 11
  12. 12. How does the USCIS application process work?o The application consists of three paper forms – an I-821D, an I-765, and an I-765WS – that must be filled out with biographic information, signed, and submitted to USCIS, along with all supporting documents proving eligibility. 12
  13. 13. How does the USCIS application process work?o The fee, which includes the work permit fee and fingerprinting fee, is $465. •Money order to “US Department of Homeland Security”o No fee waivers will be available. •Fee exemptions will be granted only in very limited circumstances (for example, when someone is homeless or disabled) and must be approved before the application for deferred action – causing significant delay. 13
  14. 14. How does the USCIS application process work?o A background investigation is required for all applicants. USCIS will take applicants’ fingerprints after they apply, and check FBI databases to determine whether applicants have been arrested. • Important to be 100% honest about any citations or arrests in their entire life, including in home country. 14
  15. 15. How does the USCIS application process work?o Except in unusual circumstances – such as where USCIS suspects fraud – there will be no interview.o If an application is missing sufficient evidence, USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). RFEs delay the process, so applicants should submit a fully complete and accurate application the first time!o There will be no right to appeal a denial. Again, this is why it is extremely important to submit a strong application! 15
  16. 16. What documents do applicants need to submit to USCIS?Individuals will have to “prove” all of the elementsannounced in the policy by submitting documentstogether with their application. 16
  17. 17. What documents do applicants need to submit to USCIS?Documents to show age (not yet turned 31 as of June 15, 2012): o Birth certificate. • A certified English translation is required. o Passport or government ID (cedula, matricula, DUI, etc). • Will also be needed for identification at fingerprinting appointment. • Start obtaining or renew now, because some consulates take several weeks or months to issue! 17
  18. 18. What documents do applicants need to submit to USCIS?Documents to show entry to the U.S. before 16th birthday:oIf applicant made a lawful entry to the U.S., include passportstamp, I-94 card, or other proof of entry showing date.oIf entered without documents, then provide proof of having beenin the U.S. prior to 16th birthday: • School enrollment records, transcripts, and report cards; • Medical records and vaccinations; • Parents’ tax returns listing you as a dependent, insurance records, etc. • Leases listing you as a resident 18
  19. 19. What documents do applicants need to submit to USCIS?Documents to show continuous residence in the U.S. for at leastthe five years prior to June 15, 2012: o School transcripts and other school records covering every semester for the last five years (or a portion of the period); o Medical records, dental records, hospital records; o Financial documents, tax returns, bank account statements; o Leases, mortgage statements, property tax bills, etc. o Pay stubs or employment records; o Bills (cell phone bills, car insurance, etc.) o Anything else with individual’s name and date from U.S. 19
  20. 20. More on proving physical presence… o Try to cover every quarter of every year for at least the last five years (June 15, 2007 through June 15, 2012) o USCIS will generally only accept affidavits (e.g. letters from family, friends, or employers) when used to fill a gap in documentation. They will NOT accept affidavits as the primary or only evidence to meet a requirement—in other words, you will need to provide more than just letters. o Warning: Applicants who have traveled outside of the United States in the last five years (whether legally or illegally) should consult an attorney before applying. 20
  21. 21. What documents do applicants need to submit to USCIS?Documents to show applicant was physically present in theU.S. on June 15, 2012 and had no lawful immigration status. o Pay stub, phone bill, bank statement covering June 15, 2012 • If you have nothing from the exact day of the 15th, something from the 14th or the 16th (or close) is fine. o If applicant ever had lawful status in U.S., proof that status expired prior to June 15, 2012 • I-94, I-20, passport, visa, etc. 21
  22. 22. What documents do applicants need to submit to USCIS?Documents to show applicant is currently in school,* hasgraduated from high school, has obtained a GED, or has beenhonorably discharged from Armed Forces or Coast Guard: o School enrollment records, report cards, transcripts—Note that if an applicant dropped out of high school it is not too late to re- enroll if under 21; the applicant only has to be “currently in school” on the date of filing the application. o High school diploma and official transcript; o GED certificate—Note that it is not too late to obtain a GED; applicants who did not finish high school can sign up for a GED program now or re-enroll in high school. o Discharge papers from Armed Forces or Coast Guard 22
  23. 23. “Currently In School”……includes any of the following:oPublic or private elementary school, junior high or middleschool, high school, or secondary school;oEducation, literacy, or career training program designed tolead to placement in postsecondary education, job training,or employment; oroEducation program assisting students either in obtaining aregular high school diploma or equivalent, or in passing aGeneral Educational Development (GED) exam or otherequivalent state-authorized exam. 23
  24. 24. School Recordso School districts are required to keep most records; it should be fairly easy to locate the proper office and go in person to obtain copies of all student records.o Advisable to get educational or GED records stamped or certified by school registrar where possible.o Fairfax County Public Schools:• If currently attending FCPS: Obtain the transcript from the school.• If attended FCPS within the past 5 years: Contact the last school attended• If attended FCPS more than 5 years ago: Go to FCPS Records Center, 3701 Franconia Road, Alexandria, VA 22310 24
  25. 25. Immigration Recordso Records of all previous applications with immigration authorities, all lawful entries into U.S., and any other immigration-related records • Applicants should gather copies of every piece of paper ever sent to immigration, and every piece of paper immigration ever sent to them. • Applicants should make sure to ask parents if they ever had any applications, contact, etc. with immigration authorities, or if they were ever listed on an immigration application as a derivative or beneficiary. 25
  26. 26. Important Tip on Collecting Documentso For ALL documents gathered, applicants should organize everything chronologically and make at least one copy of the whole stack, so that when they meet with an attorney or go to a workshop to fill out their application, everything is in order, copied, and ready to go!o Always make a complete copy of everything you send to USCIS, and send by certified or overnight US mail. 26
  27. 27. Other Information to Gather:o All previous addresses, since first arrived in U.S., and dates at those addresseso Info about how/when/where first arrived in U.S. • Documentation, if anyo Applicant’s current income, expenses, and assets • For employment authorization formo Don’t forget: two passport-style photographs; $465 money order to “US Department of Homeland Security” 27
  28. 28. RED FLAGSIf ANY of the following “red flags” are present, applicantshould schedule an individual consultation with anexperienced immigration attorney prior to applying forDeferred Action. 28
  29. 29. RED FLAGSPRIOR CONTACT WITH IMMIGRATION o Applicant is, or ever was, in removal / “deportation” proceedings, or has been ordered removed / “deported” or granted voluntary departure in the past o Applicant has ever applied for some form of immigration status in the past, and application was denied, or is still pending MAY STILL QUALIFY – but should definitely seek help of an experienced immigration attorney 29
  30. 30. RED FLAGSCRIMINAL HISTORY o Applicants must not have been convicted of a felony offense, a “significant misdemeanor,” or three or more other misdemeanors o To be convicted of a crime does not require that individual spent even one night in jail. Fines, probation, required good behavior, loss of drivers’ license, mandatory alcohol education classes, etc. can all count as convictions. • Ex: First-offense DUI, punished only by mandatory ASAP classes o Juvenile offenses may also count. USCIS will determine on a case-by-case basis. 30
  31. 31. “Significant Misdemeanors”Examples of crimes that USCIS considers “significantmisdemeanors”: o Domestic violence, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation • Includes statutory rape, contributing to the delinquency of a minor • Simple assault, if the victim was a household or family member o Burglary (breaking-and-entering in order to steal) • Not simple larceny (theft) o Unlawful possession or use of a firearm o Drug distribution or trafficking • If any drug-related charges – even simple possession – speak with an attorney before filing Driving under the influence Any misdemeanor for which the individual was sentenced to more than 90 days of custody. 31
  32. 32. Certified Dispositionso If ever been arrested or charged with violating the law, must obtain a certified disposition for each arrest or charge • Whether or not the arrest resulted in a conviction, acquittal, or “they dropped the case” • “Arrested” or “charged” can include tickets, citations, bench warrant, etc. – does not necessarily mean you were handcuffed and taken into custodyo Go to the clerk’s office of the court where incident occurred and bring cash to cover copying costs. • If out-of-state, call to request a certified disposition by mailo If not sure when/where/whether arrested, applicant should consider requesting an FBI background check. (Consult an attorney.) 32
  33. 33. Example of a Certified Disposition 33
  34. 34. RED FLAGSBREAKS IN CONTINUOUS PRESENCE o If applicant has ever departed from the U.S. and returned, will need to prove that absence was “brief, casual and innocent” • No bright-line rule defining “brief.” • “Innocent”: Not pursuant to an order of deportation, voluntary departure, etc. o Collect documents from U.S. from immediately before and immediately after trip abroad o Consult an immigration attorney before applying 34
  35. 35. RED FLAGSPRIOR FRAUD OR MISREPRESENTATION o Anyone who has ever told immigration authorities something that is not true should consult with an attorney. • Even if immigration authorities have not yet discovered the fraud – old files are being dusted off. • Even if the fraud was not successful o ESPECIALLY if applicant entered the U.S. using a false name or identity • Applicants who arrived with documents at a very young age may not know exactly how they entered – need to have an uncomfortable conversation with parents 35
  36. 36. Why bother?IS IT WORTH IT TO APPLY? o Subject to the preceding “red flags” warnings, we say: YES. o Allows people to come out of the shadows, live their lives, participate in their communities, work, study o Benefits – work authorization, official government ID, freedom from fear of deportation – outweigh the risks 36
  37. 37. Why bother?AM I PUTTING MYSELF AT RISK? o Subject to the preceding “red flags” warnings, we say: NO. o USCIS will refer denied cases to ICE for removal hearings only if: • Criminal offense • Fraud • Threat to national security o But the next president could change the program – nobody can predict that for sure o If any of the previously listed “red flags” apply, consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to filing o DON’T LIE ON YOUR APPLICATION! If not 100% certain how to answer a question, consult an attorney before filing. 37
  38. 38. Why bother?AM I PUTTING MY FAMILY AT RISK? o NO. Applying does not put your parents at risk of being deported. o Information obtained will not be used to “round up” parents of DREAMers. • Even if USCIS refers case to ICE, will not transmit information re: applicant’s parents o Again, the next president could change the program – nobody can predict for sure 38
  39. 39. Why bother?WILL THE NEXT PRESIDENT CANCEL THIS PROGRAM,LEAVING ME NO BETTER THAN WHERE I STARTED? o No way to know. o Politically, the more people who apply, the harder it will be for the next president to simply cancel this program. • Ex: TPS still being renewed for Salvadorans/Hondurans. o Success of this program will help political push for a “real” DREAM Act; failure of this program could be fatal to political push for a “real” DREAM Act. 39
  40. 40. Keep up the strugglefor a real DREAM Act! 40
  41. 41. What should I bring41 to my appointment?
  42. 42. 42
  43. 43. Where can I get individual legal help?o NoVa: • Ayuda: (202) 387-4848 -- $160 fee • Hogar Immigrant Services: (703) 534-9805 -- $150 fee • Just Neighbors: (703) 979-1240 -- $100 fee • Northern Virginia Family Service: (571) 748-2806 -- $150 fee • AILA clinic: Saturday, 8/25, 10:00am, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 5800 Backlick Rd., Springfield VA • Legal Aid Justice Center: Pro se assistance (file your own application) available on 8/31, 10:00am, 6400 Arlington Blvd. #600, Falls Church VA 22042 – no feeo DC/MD: • CARECEN: (202) 328-9799 • Ayuda: (202) 387-4848 • Casa de MD: (301) 431-4185o Richmond: • Va. Hispanic Cham Comm., c/o Williams Mullen law firm: (804) 420-6345 - $35 fee - May also schedule appointments in NoVa, call to inquireo Private attorneys: • 43