It comes as no surprise to people in the restaurant industry that many immigrants are currently working in our kitchens, cooking, cleaning and serving. President Obama’s Executive Action provides an opportunity for some of those immigrants to seek employment authorization. Having received a number of calls from our clients who own restaurants, there is clearly a great interest in helping those who make the food happen! This article outlines what the program announced by Obama is, who can qualify, and when this will happen. While not everyone is in agreement on how the President did this, the reality is that it is now a very real opportunity for many people to fix this current immigration situation.
On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that deferred action would be approved for certain parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Deferred Action is simply a stopping of the deportation process. It is NOT an amnesty; no one is getting permanent resident or citizenship through this. The program is called Deferred Action for Parent Accountability or DAPA. DAPA has the same benefits that were given to those who arrived in childhood (DACA- deferred action)--a work permit and temporary stay of deportation. By doing this, the President hopes to make it easier to deport people who should be deported first, and allowing families of undocumented immigrant who live within the parameters of the law to remain together.
- A person must be the parent or step-parent of a US citizen or legal permanent resident, as of November 20, 2014.
- A person must have continuously resided in the United States since January 1, 2010.
- A person must be physically present in the United States on November 20, 2014 and the date they apply for DAPA.
- A person cannot have had legal status on the November 20, 2014.
- A person must NOT be a priority for deportation, e.g. they must not have a felony conviction or a serious misdemeanor.
President Obama has instructed USCIS to be ready to accept applications for DAPA within 180 days. We anticipate that DAPA applications can be filed in May 2015.
No Application Can Be Filed Now!
This is important. Although we know more or less what forms and documentation are required, if a person applies before the permissible time, they will lose their payment and the case will be denied or rejected. There will be many unscrupulous “notarios” and unethical lawyers willing to take people’s money and offer to file their applications now. However, now is the time to get ready to file, so that the application is ready to go when the dates of permissible filing are announced.
What Can Be Done To Prepare For DAPA?
A person can get ready to file a DAPA application by doing the following:
- Save money! USCIS Fees for applying will be around $ 465.00, plus attorney’s fees.
- Make an appointment right away with an experienced immigration lawyer, if a person has a criminal problem, to determine whether it may affect the application for DAPA.
- Get a passport! Waiting until May to apply for a passport at a foreign consulate will certainly put a person VERY long lines!
- Gather documents. There are many documents that will be necessary prove DAPA eligibility. The following list of documents is a start of what will need to provide:
- Two passport-size photos;
- Copy of passport (page with biographical information, visa and I-94 forms, if available)
- Copies of birth certificates for the applicant and the children, with translation;
- Copy of marriage certificate or divorce, if applicable;
- Copy of any court case, specifically criminal convictions, and copies of any police report, and testing of all traffic fines have been paid;
- Copies of any documents you have if you have had prior contact with ICE or USCIS (people with deportation orders ARE eligible to apply);
- Copies of school transcripts, grade, and other evidence of its attendance, if any;
- Copies of medical or dental records,
- Bank statements, tax returns, rental agreement or copies of rent payments, pay stubs, remittance receipts, or any other document with a person’s name and date,
- Affidavit of relatives, friends, teachers, employers, neighbors, attesting to their presence in the United States;
- Pictures that show a person in the United States on or before January 1, 2010; and
- Facebook Pages or other electronic evidence of presence in the U.S. on January 1, 2010 and November 20, 2014
At the end of the day, DAPA is a temporary process. The work permit that comes with it is valid for three years. We do not know what will happen with a new president, or if Congress will try to change it (unsuccessfully without the signature of the President). It will also be important to always keep looking for other options and ways to immigrate. For example, a person can immigrant through her adult U.S. citizen children or a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident spouse citizen or resident, or through their work, once they have had DAPA..
DAPA will give a person the option to also ask for permission to travel abroad under what is called "Advance Parole". There is no GUARANTEE it would be approved, but if it is, a person can travel to their country without fear of returning, and may use this legal entry to legally immigrate to the U.S. through other processes.
Also, it is important to remember that this benefit is one which is based on discretion. It would be good to have information confirming the applicant is a person of good character. Letters from family members, pastors, employers, and friends confirming this would be useful in the application.
Even people with deportation orders are qualified for DAPA. If the applicant is such a person, it is essential they talk to an experienced immigration lawyer and get a copy of their immigration file, so they can make sure everything is in order. Even those who were physically deported, if they returned before January 1, 2010, may apply if they have no criminal convictions.
And, of course, if a person is looking for an experienced immigration attorney, regardless of who you pick, use the internet to check the lawyer out! Google and Avvo.com are excellent tools for assessing other’s experience with an attorney. Sometimes, the word of a cousin’s best friend’s sister cannot be trusted!
In the end our advice is to take advantage of this opportunity. Even if only for a short time, a work permit can change a person’s life.
If you have further questions, or we can help if DAPA, please call us today at (404) 816-8611. Information in Spanish on DAPA is available at www.immigration.net/es/DAPA.