Picture Courtesy of: http://floridaimmigrant.org
Understanding Deferred Action
It’s impossible to understand Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) without first understanding Deferred Action by itself. So what is Deferred Action? The exact definition of Deferred Action is that it’s “an exercise of prosecutorial discretion not to pursue removal from the U.S. of a particular individual for a specific period of time.” In other words, Deferred Action is an option certain people can pursue that will allow them to stay in the United States legally for up to two years without fear of deportation. Applicants that are approved can apply for work permits. Depending on the state, approved applicants can receive other benefits as well, such as the option to apply for a driver’s license or in- state tuition for college education. All in all, Deferred Action is an extremely valuable asset to those who are qualified.
DAPA: Am I Qualified?
It should come as no surprise considering the value of DAPA that there are strict qualifications. That does NOT mean that you should rule yourself out for DAPA. In fact, there are many people who are qualified for DAPA without even knowing just how much it could benefit them. Here’s what would qualify you to apply for DAPA:
- You are a parent of a US Citizen or a Green Card Holder, and;
- You have lived in the US on an ongoing basis since at the latest, January of 2010, and;
- You were present in the US on December 20, 2014, and remain so present, and;
- You have NO lawful immigration status as of November 20, 2014, and;
- You are not an enforcement priority.
DAPA Qualifications in Detail
Here’s the breakdown of how all the qualifications add up. The first qualification is why it’s called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. DAPA is designed to help parents take care of their kids. If you are an illegal immigrant with a child that was born in the States, or has a green card, you pass #1. Qualification #2 is a simple time requirement. You must have lived in the United States since January of 2010. If you haven’t been here since the beginning of 2010, you no longer qualify. For those still qualified after #2, the third step is you must have been in the U.S. on November 20, 2014. This date is significant because it was the exact day that President Obama broadened the availability of Deferred Action to include future applicants for DAPA. If you were in the States on November 20th of last year, you are still eligible. Qualification #4 confirms that you are illegally in the United States. Those who have legal papers as legal immigrants here in the States cannot apply for DAPA. Current illegal immigrants, whether they arrived in the US with papers or without them, pass qualification #4. The final requirement is that you pass a criminal background check. Felonies and certain significant misdemeanors will likely rule you out for DAPA eligibility. Cansino Blanchette Law Firm is happy to answer any questions about whether a personal conviction is considered serious, so please call us soon to discuss your options. If you get to the end of this list and you successfully pass each criterion, you are DAPA qualified!
DAPA: When Can I Apply?
President Obama is expecting roughly 3.5 million people to be eligible for DAPA acceptance. With that being said, it will take the federal and state governments a reasonable amount of time to prepare. On November 20th, 2014, President Obama instructed the Immigration Department to be ready to accept DAPA applications within 180 days of his announcement. That puts the estimated start date for submitting applications around May of 2015. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. This means that you CANNOT apply right now. Attorneys and law firms will know more or less what forms and documentation will be required, but filing your application right now runs the risk of being immediately rejected, plus you will likely lose your filing fee. Don’t fall for promises from unethical attorneys taking money now and promising to file cases now; it’s simply not possible yet.
DAPA: How Can I Prepare?
With DAPA applications being accepted as early as May of 2015, this gives you a great opportunity to use the next few months to get everything together for your DAPA application. Saving money is the first step. Just like a DACA application, the DAPA filing fee will be pretty costly at about $465. Plan ahead and start putting that money away for the filing fee, it will be well worth it. If you have questions or concerns about your background check, play it safe and give us a call. We will set up a consultation with you to determine if your record will affect your DAPA application. What you DON’T want is to file your application and hope for the best with a questionable criminal record. You’ll likely be declined and lose a lot of money in the process. Even if you know your record is clean, you should still visit an attorney. Law firms can review the specific facts of your case and get necessary details for your specific case. This will set you up with a plan for getting your application complete and ready to go as soon as applications are being accepted in May. The next step is to meet with an accountant. The Immigration Department will want to see your taxes over the last few years in your application. Accountants will be able to assist you in getting those together and prepared for DAPA. If you don’t know any accountants, we can provide contact information to a few that we trust and know to be fair. If you don’t already have your passport, GET IT! A passport is essential at various stages of your DAPA application process. There will likely be a wait time before you can meet with someone who can start your passport creation process. This is the ideal time to get all of that done so you aren’t waiting extra weeks for your completed passport when DAPA is being accepted later this year. The last step you should take when preparing for your DAPA application is to start gathering important documents. The list below will give you an idea of what documents will be helpful to your case:
- Two passport size photographs of you;
- A copy of the passport biographical page of your passport, visas, and your I-94 forms;
- A copy of birth certificates for you and your children;
- A copy of marriage certificate or divorce, if applicable;
- A copy of every court case on record, specifically any criminal convictions. Copies of all police reports and proof that all traffic tickets have been paid are also necessary.
- Copies of any immigration documents you may have.
- A copy of college transcripts, a college degree, or any other evidence of you attending post high-school courses, if any;
- Proof of presence before and since January 1, 2010, such as:
- Tax returns filed by you, or including you;
- Past leases, receipts, records dating to before that date which show living in the United States;
- Affidavits from relatives, friends, teachers, employers, neighbors attesting to your presence in the United States;
- Photographs placing you in the U.S. before 2010 and;
- School records if you attended school in the U.S.
DAPA: How do I get Started?
Now that you know what Deferred Action is, and how DAPA might apply to you, it’s time to get started on preparations for your application. Call us and set up a consultation, we are ready and excited to get started with your DAPA process. You are sure to have questions and concerns; that’s why we are here! Make sure to start gathering those documents and set up an appointment for your passport at the post office if you don’t already have one. Cansino Blanchette Law Firm is also planning to offer a free weekend seminar on DAPA in more detail, but seating WILL BE limited. If you’re interested in attending, please let us know in the comments below or give us a call to reserve your spot. Let’s get your DAPA application rolling today!