Common Questions About the President’s Immigration Executive Orders
Though every situation is unique, our clients share many common worries and concerns. Our experienced team provides answers to our most frequently asked questions to provide peace of mind and confidence to move forward with your legal case.
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Do I need an attorney to apply for a deferred action program?
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.
What do I need to apply for the extended DACA or DAPA?
Though politics has prevented the deferred action programs from full implementation, it is never too early to start preparing for when they do take effect. When it comes to immigration matters, it is important to make sure you can provide every piece of information necessary, fill out all appropriate forms, and are ready to pay the necessary fees. Too often, simple errors in preparation can make the difference between approval and denial.
Make Sure You Qualify for a Deferred Action Program
The two main deferred action programs proposed by President Obama are the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Citizens and Lawful Residents (DAPA). First, read the guidelines to see if you qualify for one of these programs.
If you aren’t sure if you qualify under these guidelines, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced lawyers. Take a moment to fill out our online contact form, and you’ll receive a prompt response from a member of our legal team who can answer your questions and help you get started pursuing deferred action.
You Qualify; So What Should You Do Now?
It can feel overwhelming when getting started on an immigration application of any type. It is possible, though, with careful planning and preparation to be successful navigating the application process the first time. Many documents must be offered to the government. Start gathering these documents now to facilitate your DACA or DAPA application:
- Proof of identity – These documents could include: passport from native country, birth certificate with photo, school or military identification with photo, any U.S. immigration documents containing your name and photo.
- Proof you came to the U.S. before your 16th birthday – Acceptable proof could include a passport with admission stamp, school records from U.S. schools you have attended, travel records, hospital or medical records, employment records, records from a religious entity confirming your participation, dated bank transactions, auto license receipts or registration, tax receipts or insurance policies, or birth certificates of children born in the U.S.
- Proof of immigration status – Government forms such as forms I-94, I-95 and I-94W, or orders of deportation, removal, or exclusion would be appropriate.
- Proof of presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 – To establish your presences on this date, proof could include rent or utility bills, employment records, school records, military records, or official records from a religious entity.
- Proof of continuous residence since June 15, 2007 – While there is no specific requirement as to the volume of proof that will satisfy this requirement, it is important to offer documents to account for as much of the time as possible. It is recommended to offer evidence of your presence for at least each year during the period of time you arrived until your application.
- Proof of student status (for DACA) – This proof could include school transcripts, report cards, diploma, or GED certificate.
- Proof of armed forces service – Appropriate documents in this category could include military health or personnel records, an official Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty, or a National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service.
It is a good idea to make copies of all these documents and store them in a safe place where you can access them easily. The documents submitted to the government do not need to be the original documents, unless the original is requested.
What Else Can I Do Now to Help With the Application Process?
In addition to gathering the necessary proof documents, there are other considerations to take for the DACA and DAPA applications. Those include:
- Fees. Fees are due at the time of application, and the government does not typically offer a payment plan. There are very few situations in which the fees can be waived, so it’s a good idea to start saving now to ensure that you have the funds you need to keep your application moving. For DACA, the initial application fee is $465.
- Travel. Some travel outside the U.S. can negatively affect your application. Travel after certain dates or for some certain lengths of time can be viewed detrimentally by the U.S. government. You cannot travel while your application is under review, so do not plan any trips during that time.
- Criminal history. A criminal record can also have a negative impact on your application. If you have been arrested and/or convicted of a crime, it is a good idea to discuss your situation with an attorney experienced in both criminal charges and immigration. In many cases, there are legal options available to mitigate the effects of the charges on an immigration application.
It’s never too early to start preparing yourself and your loved ones for the DACA or DAPA application. If you have questions about the process or aren’t sure where to begin, call the law offices of Tucker, Nong & Associates in Virginia at 703-991-7978 or in Maryland at 301-637-5392 to speak with an experienced attorney and learn more about your rights and options with these deferred action programs.