Deferred Action is NOT a path to Citizenship

USCIS begins accepting requests for deferred action for childhood arrivals on August 15, 2012.  Individuals who can demonstrate through “verifiable documentation” that they meet the established guidelines will be considered for deferred action.  Click here to view the guidelines.

It is important to understand that deferred action does NOT provide an individual with a path to permanent residence or citizenship.  Only Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can provide such a pathway. USCIS is clear that deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion (meaning the agency can decide what charges to bring and how to pursue each case).    Deferred action does NOT confer any lawful status to an individual.

However, a grant of deferred action does allow an individual to live in the United States for a specified period of time without the threat of immediate removal (deportation) and does allow the individual to apply for work authorization.  While an approval of a deferred action request does not excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence, an individual whose case is deferred will not be considered to be accruing unlawful presence in the U.S. during the period in which deferred action is in effect. 

Unlawful presence” and “unlawful status” are two very different things.  Your status is associated with allowable activities or purposes – why you were allowed into the U.S.  For example, if you enter the U.S. with proper inspection for the purpose of tourism and are given a three-month visa, as long as you abide by the regulations for that visa, you remain in status.  Unlawful presence refers to the period when a person is in the U.S. either without being admitted or paroled OR after the expiration of a period of authorized stay (for example, after a visa has expired).  Unlawful presence is relevant when determining admissiblity of an individual who departs from the U.S. and seeks to reenter.  You can read a more in-depth discussion of this topic by clicking here.

If you think you qualify for deferred action, contact us today for a free analysis of your case.

Page summary: Deferred action halts accrual of unlawful presence but does not offer a path to a green card or naturalization.

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