How to File for Deferred Action, the New Immigration Law Providing Work Permits to Many Undocumented

Approximately one million young undocumented immigrants are thirsting for every drop of information they can find regarding the biggest and newest immigration law to help the undocumented community since 2001.

It’s called Deferred Action.

While not exactly on time, the tardy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) issued a written statement and conducted a telephonic conference with stakeholders on August 3, 2012, outlining the filing procedures. This was originally scheduled for release on August 1st, but who is counting?

The USCIS is ramping up for an avalanche of applications that can begin to be submitted on August 15, 2012. Processing these applications will be a herculean task.

I am relieved that USCIS is moving forward on the program and providing much-needed information to the anxiously-waiting undocumented community, This is a key step forward in instilling confidence in the program.

The new information provided by USCIS includes the following:

• Filing fee for deferred action and work permits will be $465, which is intended to subsidize the costs of administering the program, which could be used by 800,000 applicants, without increasing the fiscal burden on taxpayers. Fee waivers will not be accepted.

• The form used to request deferred action, along with additional information and guidelines, will be available on August 15, 2012 and can be downloaded at that time from the USCIS website.

• Applicants can begin filing for deferred action and work permits on August 15, 2012, not earlier.

• Information obtained by USCIS during the Deferred Action filing process will not be used for immigration enforcement, unless a criminal, fraud, or national security issue is involved.

• Applicants will be required to submit biometrics and undergo background checks.

• Conviction for driving without a driver’s license will not be a disqualifying offense.

• Applicants will mail their Deferred Action application along with a work permit application to a USCIS Lockbox. Four USCIS Service Centers will be responsible for adjudicating the applications.

• It is anticipated that it will take several months to adjudicate the applications.

This is a good opportunity for undocumented immigrants who qualify, but everyone should be cautious about relying on bad advice, particularly from so-called “notaries” who are not licensed to practice immigration law.

I am deeply concerned with immigrants falling prey to unscrupulous service providers who provide misleading or false information on deferred action. I have practiced immigration law for 18 years, and I know how complicated this field is. Even something that appears simple on its face can turn into an immigration nightmare.

Bad advice can hurt.

We’ve seen this many times before when immigration law has changed and immigrants, desperate for legal status, are vulnerable to empty promises by some agents, attorneys or notaries. Complicated fact scenarios and rapidly developing law make can create risk.

Predatory service providers can only make it worse.

Those who work with undocumented immigrants, such as immigration lawyers and immigrant rights activists, are concerned that some unethical individuals will prey upon the undocumented immigrant community with misleading information about the new immigration law.