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What You Need to Know about ‘Deferred Action’

Some immigrants who were brought to the country as children can now apply for deferred action, a program that allows you to remain in the country and apply for work permits.

The program has strict requirements and includes filing several forms, as well as a background check and evidence of eligibility. Here are the basics of the program, and links to official government information for more details.

What Is Deferred Action (And What Isn’t)

Deferred action allows certain people who were brought to the United States as children to remain here and apply for renewable two-year work permits. It does not give beneficiaries a path to citizenship or lawful permanent residency. The program will remain in effect at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security.

Who Can Benefit from the Program

To qualify for the program, you must be under 31 years as of June 15, 2012 and arrived in the United States before turning 16. You must also undergo a background check to show that you did not commit certain types of crimes. The program is also open to certain people who are currently under deportation proceedings. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency in charge of implementing the program, has a list of the requirements for deferred action (PDF).

How the Application Process Works

To apply, you must file three forms:

  • 821D to request deferred action
  • I-765 to apply for employment authorization
  • I-765WS, a worksheet to establish the applicant’s employment needs

The total cost of applying is $465. Where to apply depends on where you live. See USCIS to find out where to send a deferred action application and follow these filing tips.

Application Errors Can Be Costly

Be careful not to make mistakes when applying for deferred action. Errors might delay the process or worse; it might result in the denial of an application. Although there is a process to reconsider applications denied due to certain mistakes, USCIS’s decisions are final, and cannot be appealed. Applicants who misrepresent themselves on the applications to benefit from deferred action will be considered a high priority for deportation.

Scammers Are Promising Quick Processing Times

Scammers might promise expedited processing of deferred action for a fee. Applicants should know that this program does not offer expedited processing. The best way to avoid scams is by only trusting official government information. Applicants who need legal advice can find an accredited immigration attorney and other legal services at USCIS.

For more information on deferred action visit USCIS.gov or call 1 (800) 375-5283.

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