Building Dreams

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of the Department Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a memorandum indicating that immigrants meeting certain requirements would be offered “deferred action” protections. On August 15, 2012, the DHS released further information regarding the requirements to qualify for deferred action.

What Is Deferred Action?

The DHS has determined that certain aliens who arrived in the United States prior to their 16th birthday are a low priority for immigration enforcement and has elected to exercise its discretion not to take action to deport them ("Deferred Action"). However, deferred action is only temporary, may be revoked at any time, and does not provide a path to permanent legal immigration status or citizenship. Deferred action is granted for a period of two years, after which the individual may apply for a renewal. Individuals are eligible for renewal of deferred action as long as they are under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.

Who Qualifies For Deferred Action?

In order to qualify for deferred action, the alien in question must meet all of the following criteria:

  • The individual arrived in the United States prior to his or her 16th birthday.
  • The individual was less than 31 years old as of June 15, 2012.
  • The individual resided continuously in the United States from June 15, 2007, to the present.
  • The individual entered the United States without inspection before June 15, 2012, or his or her legal immigration status expired by June 15, 2012.
  • The individual was present in the United States on June 15, 2012, as well as at the time of requesting deferred action.
  • The individual is currently enrolled in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained an educational development certification, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or branch of the Armed Forces.
  • The individual has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or more than two misdemeanors, and does not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
How Does An Individual Apply For Deferred Action?

A person may apply for deferred action by completing a series of forms and providing supporting documentation to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Applications for deferred action are not submitted in person, rather, they must be mailed to the USCIS “lockbox” in the state in which the individual lives. The mailing addresses and complete instructions for the filing process are available at

The following forms must be completed and submitted with all required supporting documentation and a fee of $465 for USCIS to consider the application:

  1. Form I-821D – Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
  2. Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization.
  3. Form I-765WS – Form I-765 Worksheet.

Examples of supporting documentation include:

  • Proof of identity such as a passport, birth certificate, military ID or other official government document bearing your name;
  • Proof of arrival in the United States before your 16th birthday such as passport with admission stamp, I-94, school records, immigration records, travel records and medical records;
  • Proof of immigration status such as an I-94 and/or removal records;
  • Proof of presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and that you continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 such as rent and utility bills, bank records, employment and school records, military records, religious records, passport entries, birth certificates of children born in the U.S., drivers license receipts and registration, deeds and mortgages, and tax records;
  • Proof of student states such as school transcripts, report cards, diplomas, etc.; and
  • Proof of honorable discharge if veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces.
Are Individuals Denied Deferred Action Subject To Removal Proceedings?

DHS has stated that it will follow existing policies regarding the initiation of removal proceedings for individuals denied deferred action protection. According to a USCIS memo from November of 2011, individuals denied deferred action protection will only be referred for removal proceedings if they engaged in fraudulent behavior during the deferred action application process, were convicted of criminal offense that would normally make them removable from the United States, are under investigation or arrested for an “egregious public safety” offense, or pose a threat to national security or public safety.

As the deferred action program is relatively new, there remain a lot of questions regarding eligibility, the application process, and the consequences that could follow a denial of deferred action. For this reason, it is always good idea to consult with an experienced San Diego immigration attorney prior to initiating the deferred action application process. For a free consultation, call the Law Office of Donald R. Oder at (888) 900-9002.