Major Shift in Immigration Policy Now Allows Some Children of Illegal Immigrants to Avoid Deportation

On Friday, June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that his administration would offer deferred action to the children of the undocumented.  Deferred action is relief that is statutorily within the complete discretionary authority of USCIS, an administrative agency.  Moreover, deferred action statutorily provides for work authorization for individuals who are granted such relief.   As a result of this new policy, certain individuals may be granted work authorization in the U.S. until the age of 30.  This, essentially, buys these individuals time in the U.S. while Congress continues to grapple with this Country’s broken immigration system.

To Qualify, Eligible Individuals Must:

Be 15-30 years old, and must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16; Have been present in the U.S. for 5 years as of June 15, 2012; Have maintained continuous residence without leaving the U.S.; Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or multiple minor misdemeanors; and Be currently in school, graduated or have a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran.

USCIS has announced the minor traffic violations will not affect eligibility in this area, though a single DUI will.

Deferred Action

Deferred action is simply the governments agreement that they will not seek to remove someone from the U.S.  It is discretionary, meaning the government can choose to implement it or not.  Moreover, because it is a form of discretionary relief, the government can revoke it at any time.  However, such revocations have historically only occurred when the beneficiary of deferred action engages in some form of criminal conduct.

Work Authorization

The beneficiaries of deferred action are eligible to receive work authorization in two-year increments.  That means that beneficiaries can get social security cards, go to college, and work in the U.S. Every two years, the beneficiary will have to reapply for work authorization which is generally an standardized process taking approximately three months.


It should be noted that deferred action is available regardless of an individuals immigration status in the U.S.  In fact, even if an individual is already in removal proceedings, a request for deferred action can be made, potentially resulting in the termination of proceedings.

This is a major shift in immigration policy.  However, it is temporary relief.  It only applies to individuals up until the age of 30.  It is the hope of the administration that this relief will buy individuals enough time in the U.S. for Congress to implement immigration reforms.  If you qualify for deferred action, you should contact an immigration attorney immediately.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this article, or any other immigration issue, please contact us.