There is one very important warning for those who have been arrested by local police and have been convicted of a criminal offense. DO NOT apply without getting your criminal history, including juvenile delinquency adjudications, reviewed by an experienced Immigration Attorney first.
There has been very little information from USCIS regarding what kind of criminal history could bar you from the Deferred Action Program. However, we do know that convictions for felonies, significant misdemeanor or multiple misdemeanors are bars to the program. Also barred will be those who the immigration authorities consider a “public safety threat” or a “national security threat”.
WHAT IS A “SIGNIFICANT MISDEMEANOR”?
It is very unclear what this phrase means. According to memos released from the Department of Homeland Security it appears they intend to include offenses such as driving while intoxicated (DWI/DUI), possession of drugs for personal use, obstruction of justice, assault and theft. You should know that any of these offenses could subject you to MANDATORY DETENTION. DO NOT assume that your conviction for a minor misdemeanor is not a significant (serious) misdemeanor disqualifying you from applying for Deferred Action.
WHAT IS A “PUBLIC SAFETY THREAT”?
USCIS has not made it clear who will be barred from the Deferred Action Program as a public safety threat. They could very well be looking at your dismissed criminal charges or your juvenile delinquency adjudication to determine whether you are public safety threat. They will most likely be looking into any connections you have had with gang activity or any action where the police stopped you and asked questions about gangs or gang membership.
WHAT IS A “NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT”?
The Department of Homeland Security gives this phrase a broad characterization. They have stated that any “participation in activities that threaten the United States” is a national security threat.
HOW SHOULD YOU PREPARE?
Get a copy of your record(s) from the court(s) where you had your conviction or dismissal. You should also obtain all of the arrest reports from that criminal case. Once you have all your records, you should contact an experienced Immigration Attorney to review your records with him or her. As we patiently await the final regulations and rules for filing Deferred Action affirmatively with USICS, we will receive more documents from the government that will start to clearly define who will be eligible to apply. In the meantime, do not pay anyone who claims to be able to apply for you right now.
If you would like a consultation regarding this article or any other immigration questions you might have, please do not hesitate to contact me for a consultation.
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