On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memorandum explaining how prosecutorial discretion should be used with respect to individuals who came to the United States as children. The memorandum directs that certain young people who do not present a risk to national security or public safety and meet specified criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for two years, subject to renewal, and apply for work authorization. Applicants must pass a background check before they receive deferred action.
To establish eligibility for deferred action, individuals must provide “verifiable documents” showing that they:
- Were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012.
- Arrived in the United States when they were under the age of 16. This applies for individuals who were “inspected and admitted” at a port of entry and remained in the United States beyond the period of authorized stay or violated their immigration status, in addition to those who entered without being admitted or paroled.
- Have continuously resided in the United States for at least 5 years prior to June 15, 2012 and were present in the United States on June 15, 2012.
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces.
- Have not been convicted of the following crimes, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety:
- Felony offense.
- A significant misdemeanor which is a crime for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 1 year or less but more than 5 days. DHS considers the following to be “significant misdemeanors”: an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; driving under the influence (these offenses are considered significant misdemeanors regardless of the length of the sentence that is imposed). For offenses not listed above a misdemeanor is one for which you were sentenced to more than 90 days in custody. This does not include a suspended sentence.
- Three or more misdemeanors not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct. Any misdemeanor not listed under “significant misdemeanors” for which you were sentenced to fewer than 90 days in custody counts towards the “three or more misdemeanor offenses.” DHS will not count minor traffic offenses as misdemeanors. DHS will not count immigration-related offenses created by state immigration laws as being misdemeanors or felonies.
President Biden has issued an Executive Order continuing this program for new applicants as well as renewals.
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