On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions on immigration (also referred to as administrative relief) to fix today’s broken immigration system. These new executive actions will expand the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and create the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program for undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
Now, an estimated 4.9 million undocumented immigrants, including 400,000 Asian American immigrants, will be eligible for temporary relief from deportation. In addition to the 30,000 undocumented Korean Americans currently eligible for DACA, just over 48,000 Korean Americans are estimated to be newly eligible for relief.
Note: Specific guidelines, official application forms, and instructions on how to prepare specific documents will be finalized in the coming months.
Q: What does deferred action do?
A: It provides temporary protection from deportation for three years at a time. It does not grant substantive rights, immigration status, or a pathway to citizenship.
Q: Who benefits from the announcement on the expanded DACA program?
A: Individuals who:
- entered the U.S. before the age of 16, including those born before June 15, 1981;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;
- are otherwise not enforcement priorities, as set forth in the November 20, 2014 Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum.
Q: What are the changes to the DACA program?
A: Certain parameters of DACA and issuing guidance for case-by-case use of deferred action for those adults who have been in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 have been expanded.
The age cap has been removed. DACA will apply to all otherwise eligible immigrants who entered the U.S. by the requisite adjusted entry date before the age of 16, regardless of how old they were in June 2012 or are today. Therefore, the prior age restriction excluding those who were older than 31 on June 15, 2012 has been eliminated.
The DACA renewal and work authorization has been extended to 3 years (previously 2 years). This includes those who have applied for and are awaiting two-year work authorization documents based on the renewal of their DACA grants.
Note: DHS recommends that USCIS also consider means to extend those 2-year renewals already issued to 3 years.
The date-of-entry requirement has been adjusted to January 1, 2010. The eligibility cut-off date by which a DACA applicant must have been in the U.S. has been adjusted from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.
Q: When can I apply for the expanded DACA program?
A: Roughly around February 21, 2015. USCIS will begin accepting applications under the new criteria no later than 90 days after the date of the announcement.
Q: Who benefits from the new DAPA program?
A: Individuals who:
- have on November 20, 2014 (the date of the DHS memorandum), a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or LPR;
- have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;
- are physically present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014 (the date of the DHS memorandum), and at the time of making a request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- have no lawful status on November 20, 2014 (the date of the DHS memorandum);
- are not an enforcement priority as reflected in the November 20, 2014 Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants Memorandum; and
- present no other factors that, in the exercise of discretion, makes the grant of deferred action inappropriate.
Q: What are the requirements for DACA or DAPA?
A: Eligible applicants must register and pass criminal and national security background checks, and start paying their fair share of taxes.
Q: I think I’m eligible. How do I apply?
A: Applicants must:
- file requisite applications for deferred action pursuant to the new criteria described above.
- submit biometrics for USCIS to conduct background checks similar to the background check that is required for DACA applicants.
Q: Can eligible individuals get work authorization?
A: Yes, each individual who applies for deferred action pursuant to the criteria above is also eligible to apply for work authorization for the (3-year) period of deferred action, pursuant to DHS’s authority to grant such authorization as reflected in section 274A(h)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Note: Applicants will pay the work authorization and biometrics fees, which currently amount to $465. There will be no fee waivers and, like DACA, very limited fee exemptions.
Q: When can I apply for the new DAPA program?
A: Roughly around May 21, 2015. USCIS will begin accepting applications under the new criteria no later than 180 days after the date of the announcement.
Q: What if I qualify but am already in removal proceedings or subject to a final order of removal?
A: The above criteria are to be considered for all individuals encountered by ICE, CBP, or USCIS, whether or not the individual is already in removal proceedings or subject to a final order of removal.
ICE and CBP are instructed to immediately begin identifying persons in their custody, as well as newly encountered individuals, who meet the above criteria and may thus be eligible for deferred action.
ICE is further instructed to review pending removal cases and seek administrative closure or termination of the cases of individuals identified who meet the above criteria, and to refer such individuals to USCIS for case-by-case determinations. ICE should establish a process to allow individuals in removal proceedings to identify themselves as candidates for deferred action.
USCIS is instructed to implement this memorandum consistent with its existing guidance regarding the issuance of notices to appear. The USCIS process shall also be available to individuals subject to final orders of removal who otherwise meet the above criteria.
Q: Who can I contact for more information or assistance with my application?
A: National Korean American Service and Education Consortium (NAKASEC) in Los Angeles, CA and Annandale, VA: 703-256-2208; nakasec.org
Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA: 323-937-3718; krcla.org
Korean American Resource and Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago, IL: 773-588-9158; chicagokrcc.org
You must meet strict requirements to qualify for relief from deportation.
Q: Are in-language services offered at NAKASEC, KRC, and KRCC?
A: Yes, all three organizations offer assistance in English and Korean.
Note: NAKASEC primarily serves Virginia and California; KRC primarily serves southern California; and KRCC primarily serves Chicago, Illinois and the outlying suburbs. However, they also accept out-of-state calls.