The Obama Administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives qualifying illegal immigrants the opportunity to avoid deportation and obtain a work permit, began taking applications on Aug. 15. Since then, the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services said it has received about 82,000 applications from hopeful young immigrants.
This week, the first 29 applicants were notified that they have been awarded the reprieve. They were informed that they will be allowed to stay in the United States for up to two years and will be able to work during that time. The Deferred Action status can then be renewed every two years; however, the administration has also made clear that the program does not pave the way to citizenship.
A spokesman for USCIS said that another 1,600 applications are currently awaiting final review. Originally, the department said it could take four to six months for the first applications to be fully reviewed, so the earlier decisions came as a welcome surprise for successful applicants.
The Deferred Action program was first announced in June. It has many similarities to the DREAM Act, which has failed to pass the House and Senate for several years now. To become eligible for the Deferred Action program, applicants have to meet a number of qualifications, including:
- They must prove they are between the ages of 15 and 31.
- They must prove that they arrived in the country before they were 16.
- They must prove that they have lived in the United States continuously for at least the past five years.
- They must be free of serious criminal convictions or not otherwise pose a threat to society.
- They must be enrolled in or have completed high school, a GED program or have served in the U.S. military.
To find out more about this important program, talk to an immigration attorney in your area.
Source: WMBF, "DHS approves 29 people for delayed deportation," Alicia A. Caldwell, Sept. 14, 2012