Applying for DAPA with a Criminal Record

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced an Executive Action Program which includes the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) Program. This program can potentially assist millions of immigrants working and living in the United States. There are general eligibility requirements and those with a criminal record are not necessarily ineligible. It is possible that individuals with a criminal record can still qualify for DAPA.

General Eligibility

Basic requirements to apply for the DAPA Program are being a parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, having lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010 and are “not an enforcement priority for removal from the United States”. The requests for DAPA are considered on a case by case basis. Past illegal activity does not necessarily deny you the option to apply for the DAPA Program. Individuals who are interested in learning about DUI convictions should visit, DAPA DUI and DUI Impacts on Deferred Action Renewal.

Prior Convictions

As defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a conviction, with regards to immigration, is “a formal judgment of guilt entered by the court” which includes cases where “a judge or jury has found the alien guilty or the alien entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere or has admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt and the judge has ordered some form of punishment, penalty, or imposed a restraint on the alien’s liberty.”

Juvenile Convictions

The USCIS generally does not consider juvenile offenses to be convictions, as long as the juvenile was not charged as an adult. Depending on the actual crime, a person under the age of 18 who has been charged as an adult may be considered to have a conviction.

Misdemeanor Convictions

There are circumstances where a misdemeanor judgment will not be considered a conviction by the USCIS. Having just one significant misdemeanor such as those involving domestic violence or sexual assault could disqualify a person. Generally, those “convicted of three or more misdemeanor offenses, other than minor traffic offenses” will be disqualified unless an attorney is able to reduce a misdemeanor to a traffic offense or minor infraction.

Felony Convictions

Having a felony conviction does not automatically disqualify a person from the DAPA Program. As with the misdemeanor, a proficient attorney could possibly get a felony conviction reduced to a non-significant misdemeanor. There are cases that are more difficult to defend such as aggravated felonies and gang related felonies.

Other Convictions

There are so many other possible convictions that need to be considered before applying for the DAPA Program. Foreign convictions will depend on the standards within the United States, not where the offense was committed. An expunged record does not necessarily remove the underlying conviction. Probation, pardons and court martial convictions are other judgments to consider.

Every Case is Unique – Contact a Lawyer!

As stated before, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services review the applications for the DAPA Program on a case by case basis. There are risks and benefits to the DAPA Program and any individual who is interested in applying needs to be aware of both. Each case is unique and it is essential for the applicant to consult an attorney with experience in Criminal Charges & Immigration.

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