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USCIS - Frequently Asked Questions About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
Q1: What is deferred action?
A1:Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual. In addition, although an individual whose case is deferred will not be considered to be accruing unlawful presence in the United States during the period deferred action is in effect, deferred action does not excuse individuals of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.
Q2: What is deferred action for childhood arrivals?
A2: On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization.
Q3: If my removal is deferred pursuant to the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals process, am I eligible for employment authorization?
A3: Yes. Pursuant to existing regulations, if your case is deferred, you may obtain employment authorization from USCIS provided you can demonstrate an economic necessity for employment.
Q4: Does this process apply to me if I am currently in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order?
A4: This 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 at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
Q5: Do I accrue unlawful presence if I have a pending request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals?
A5: You will continue to accrue unlawful presence while the request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals is pending, unless you are under 18 years old at the time of the request. If you are under 18 years old at the time you submit your request but turn 18 while your request is pending with USCIS, you will not accrue unlawful presence while the request is pending. If your case is deferred, you will not accrue unlawful presence during the period of deferred action. Having action deferred on your case will not excuse previously accrued unlawful presence.
Q6: If my case is deferred, am I in lawful status for the period of deferral?
A6: No. Although action on your case has been deferred and you do not accrue unlawful presence during the period of deferred action, deferred action does not confer any lawful status.
There is a significant difference between “unlawful presence” and “unlawful status.” Unlawful presence refers to a period an individual is present in the United States (1) without being admitted or paroled or (2) after the expiration of a period of stay authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (such as after the period of stay authorized by a visa has expired). Unlawful presence is relevant only with respect to determining whether the inadmissibility bars for unlawful presence, set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act at Section 212(a)(9), apply to an individual if he or she departs the United States and subsequently seeks to re-enter. (These unlawful presence bars are commonly known as the 3- and 10-Year Bars.)
The fact that you are not accruing unlawful presence does not change whether you are in lawful status while you remain in the United States. Because you lack lawful status at the time DHS defers action in your case, you remain subject to all legal restrictions and prohibitions on individuals in unlawful status.
Q7: Does deferred action provide me with a path to permanent residence status or citizenship?
A7: No. Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion that does not confer lawful permanent resident status or a path to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.
Q8: If my case is deferred, will I be eligible for premium tax credits and reduced cost sharing through Affordable Insurance Exchanges starting in 2014?
A8: No. The Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury intend to conform the relevant regulations to the extent necessary to exempt individuals with deferred action for childhood arrivals from eligibility for premium tax credits and reduced cost sharing. This is consistent with the policy under S. 3992, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2010.
Q9: Can I be considered for deferred action even if I do not meet the guidelines to be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals?
A9:This process is only for individuals who meet the specific guidelines announced by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Other individuals may, on a case-by-case basis, request deferred action from USCIS or ICE in certain circumstances, consistent with longstanding practice.
Q10: Will the information I share in my request for consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals be used for immigration enforcement purposes?
A10: Information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the criteria set forth in USCIS’s Notice to Appear guidance (www.uscis.gov/NTA). Individuals whose cases are deferred pursuant to the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals process will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including for assistance in the consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals request, to identify or prevent fraudulent claims, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense. The above information sharing policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to the requestor.
This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
Q11: If my case is referred to ICE for immigration enforcement purposes or if I receive an NTA, will information related to my family members and guardians also be referred to ICE for immigration enforcement purposes?
A11: If your case is referred to ICE for purposes of immigration enforcement or you receive an NTA, information related to your family members or guardians that is contained in your request will not be referred to ICE for purposes of immigration enforcement against family members or guardians. However, that information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including for assistance in the consideration of the deferred action for childhood arrivals request, to identify or prevent fraudulent claims, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
Q12: Does this Administration remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform?
A12: Yes. The Administration has consistently pressed for passage of comprehensive immigration reform, including the DREAM Act, because the President believes these steps are critical to building a 21st century immigration system that meets our nation’s economic and security needs.
Q13: Is passage of the DREAM Act still necessary in light of the new process?
A13: Yes.The Secretary of Homeland Security’s June 15th memorandum allowing certain people to request consideration for deferred action is the most recent in a series of steps that DHS has taken to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety. Deferred action does not provide lawful status or a pathway to citizenship. As the President has stated, individuals who would qualify for the DREAM Act deserve certainty about their status. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that comes with a pathway to permanent lawful status.
Q14: Can I request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals under this process if I am currently in a nonimmigrant status (e.g. F-1, E-2, H-4) or have Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
A14: No. You can only request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals under this process if you currently have no immigration status and were not in any lawful status on June 15, 2012.