On June 15, 2012, President Obama, through an executive order, paved the way for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children to remain here temporarily without fear of deportation. While his announcement does not offer green card status to the estimated 800,000 young people affected, it offers them hope for a brighter future by making it possible for them to obtain a work permit. With a work permit, one can work lawfully in the U.S. and obtain a social security number. These “DREAM”ers may also now be able to procure a driver’s license, attend college, and receive other benefits and documents that were previously unavailable to them.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the following eligibility criteria to receive the relief that has been offered:
1. The person must have come to the U.S. while under the age of sixteen;
2. The person must have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding the date of President Obama’s announcement and have been present in the U.S. on the date of the announcement;
3. The person must be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.;
4. The person must not have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to the national security or public safety; and,
5. The person is not above the age of thirty.
Another positive thing about the President’s announcement is that those affected may still be eligible to receive a benefit even if they are currently in removal proceedings or are subject to a final order of removal. In order to qualify, however, an applicant will have to pass a background check. Requests for relief will be granted on a case by case basis.
DHS has advised that they will issue rules to implement this program within sixty days of June 15. We will strive to keep you informed of future developments. If you have any questions about this new program, please make an appointment for a consultation.