{Time to Read: 1 1/4 minutes}  Since my last article was published on Executive Action and the new immigration reform, USCIS has announced that they will begin accepting applications for the now-expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative (DACA) on February 18, 2015.

The basics are the following:

Who: Individuals with no lawful immigration status who came to the United States under the age of 16, and are seeking protection from deportation and employment authorization.

What: Extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from two years, and allows you to be considered for DACA if you:

— Entered the United States before the age of 16;

— Have lived in the United States continuously since at least January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007;

— Are of any age (removes the requirement to have been born since June 15, 1981); and

— Meet all the other DACA guidelines.

For more information go to: USCIS Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

While no requests will be accepted before February 18, what applicants can do right now is gather information and documents that they are going to need in order to apply.

Date of Entrance in US

Everyone who applies for DACA, DAPA or even the provisional waiver will need some proof of physical presence in the US.  Since many people have come in “without inspection,” meaning they came in through the border without actually going through the immigration process, they don’t have proof of exactly when they got here. In the absence of a stamped passport or similar document, they need to accumulate as much proof of their physical presence here as possible.

Look for anything that carries a date and their actual, legal name, not the name they might be using for the purpose of immigration benefits.  Here are some examples:

— Driver’s license

— Bills in their name that go to their residence or wherever they are staying

— School records showing enrollment

— Tax returns

Undocumented foreign nationals here in the U.S. will need to show to the best of their ability a specific date or as close as possible to one, to demonstrate that they were physically present before the minimum cutoff dates.

Proof of Enrollment in school, high school diploma or equivalency or college/graduate degrees

These include:

— School records including letter of confirmation of enrollment

— Diplomas

Tax Returns

If they’ve paid taxes, the government will want to have a copy of all their tax returns.  Even if they are not required right away, the government will probably require them at some point, so it is best to have them ready and available.

Eligibility

Just because the remedy is announced doesn’t mean that everybody will qualify. People need to assess their eligibility, and if it triggers potential deportation, they should go to an immigration expert.

If they have any criminal past whatsoever, even a simple arrest, they should retain an attorney who  specializes in immigration, assess the damage that their criminal record might do, and whether that makes them ineligible for the remedy or even worse, deportable. It’s important to make that assessment before you apply.

No matter what you do, if you think you may be eligible just on the face of what the guidelines say so far, you should start gathering documents.  Once the regulations are released, consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Have questions about your documentation?  Please feel free to give us a call.

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