In June, the Obama administration announced a policy change by which undocumented people under the age of 31 could seek to stay in the U.S. and apply for two-year work permits. The announcement was greeted enthusiastically by immigrants in Minnesota and across the country.
The excitement about the announcement increased yesterday as hundreds of organizations in many major cities held workshops to explain how to apply for the program and avoid deportation.
The formal name of the program is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The fee for applying is $465 and there is quite a bit of paperwork. Those with criminal records are barred from applying. And it is unclear whether it may help immigrant students qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Indeed, in many ways, the policy change was a limited one. “Deferred action does not provide lawful status or a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, the head of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Yet for young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, it offers a chance to move forward with their lives with more assurance than they had before.
The program is therefore expected to draw large numbers of applicants. USCIS says it has hired many new workers to help administer the program. But the waiting time for applications to be processed could still be long, though. This is because, with an estimated 1.7 million people eligible to apply, the number of applications is expected to be high.
Of course, if President Obama is defeated in the November election, the program could end as soon as January. Many immigrants are fervently hoping that is not the case.
Source: “Young Illegal Immigrants Seek To Avoid Deportation,” National Public Radio, Ted Robbins, 8-15-12
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our main Minnesota immigration page.