Like most immigration situations, there are many requirements that accompany the applications for the deferred action programs created by President Obama’s executive orders. While it is not mandated that applicants be represented by an attorney, those who wish to apply should give serious consideration to doing so. For many, the stakes are very high—family life, financial security, and personal safety may all depend on the status of this application. When the situation is this serious, the guidance of an experienced immigration attorney can be invaluable.
Why Should I Hire an Immigration Attorney for a Deferred Action Application?
While some argue that the applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are relatively straightforward compared to other immigration documents, it does not mean they are simple. Additionally, each immigrant’s story is unique, and the details of your path may lead to further questions. Experts say it is important to retain an immigration attorney, especially if you:
- Have been convicted of a crime. If you have a criminal record, it could make you an enforcement priority for removal from the United States. It is possible to address any previous charges before applying to minimize the negative consequences to your immigration status.
- Might be an enforcement priority. The government views anyone who has committed a felony or significant misdemeanor, has committed three misdemeanors, is a gang member, has unlawfully entered the U.S. after January 1, 2014, or poses any threat to national security or public safety as a priority for removal from the country.
- Have traveled outside the United States since your arrival. Part of the terms of the DACA and DAPA guidelines note that international travel is restricted during the application process. Travel after certain dates or for prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to your application.
- Have changed or assimilated your name. It is not uncommon for immigrants in any country to change their name to become more assimilated to the new culture. For example, Maria may start going by the name Mary or Jose can become Joe. This will not bar you from obtaining approval for the deferred action programs, but it will be important to track the use of your names over the course of your life in the U.S.
- Are a step-parent applying for DAPA. The law is currently unclear on the role of step-parents as it applies to the deferred action programs. An experienced attorney may be able to investigate your situation more fully to determine how best to proceed.
These situations may require other legal action to help you obtain a positive result to your deferred action application. Many times, these situations can be resolved efficiently today to prevent problems later.
A Skilled Lawyer Can Help Anticipate Future Immigration Issues
Even if you do not fall into any of the previously discussed categories, you may still have some cause for concern when filling out your application. The forms require a large volume of information about you and your actions over the course of many years. It is possible that you may offer information that can be used against you in the future. If the program is terminated in the future, will your current undocumented status become a problem? Additionally, there may be others in your household or place of employment who are mentioned in your application documents. If those people do not qualify for one of these programs, will sharing that information put them at risk?
A skilled and experienced attorney can help you decide if either of the deferred action programs is right for you. They can help you understand more about your rights and decide how best to move forward. If one of these deferred action programs could be beneficial, they can continue to offer guidance on what information to offer and how to present it in a manner that will both support your application and protect your future status.
If you or someone you love is considering an application for DACA or DAPA, the dedicated immigration lawyers at Tucker, Nong & Associates may be able to help. Call our office in Maryland at (301) 637-5392 or Virginia at (703) 991-7978 to speak with one of our multi-lingual call center operators who can answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.