Contributed by Robert S. Whitehill

The Executive Action announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014 has stirred a great deal of excitement in the immigration space: some positive, some negative.  Despite a lawsuit challenging the lawfulness of the action and Congressional threats to defund a portion DHS’s budget, DHS is proceeding to implement the executive initiatives.

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

DHS predicts that within 90 days of the issuance of the executive order, new DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) policies will be in place to expand the program.  To date, DACA has been limited to applicants who are under 31 years of age and meet other requirements.  According to DHS, prior to February 18, 2015, the DACA age limit will be expanded to include individuals born prior to June 15, 1981 who have been continuously residing in the US since January 1, 2010.

DHS also predicts that within 180 days (i.e., by May 19, 2015) of the issuance of the executive order, a new deferred action program, DAPA will go live.  Among other requirements, this will provide deferred action to an undocumented person who, on November 20, 2014 was the parent of a US citizen or permanent resident child.

Neither these enhancements to deferred action is yet available.  For those to whom these might apply, DHS advises those individuals to gather their identity documents, proof of their relationship to a US citizen or permanent resident child and of their continuous residence in the US for at least the last five years.  DHS also warns that there will be scammers who will promise things that they can’t provide.  As there will be a USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) filing fee, individuals thinking of filing should save some money for that purpose.

The decision to file for deferred action needs to be made on a case-by-case basis and USCIS makes its decisions on a case-by-case basis.  For those 500,000+ childhood arrivals who were granted DACA deferred action, the grant gave them employment authorization and relief, albeit temporary, from removal from the US.  DACA has given employers access to additional authorized workers and DAPA should provide millions more.