USCIS will start accepting applications for a three year relief from deportation under President Obama’s expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program from February 18, 2015. This program is meant for those who came here as children. Expansion of this program is the first part of President Obama’s immigration reform plan that was announced in November 2014.
From February 18, 2015, anyone who entered the U.S. before January 1, 2010 will be allowed to apply for DACA. However, all the requirements for the program must be met by the applicants. Those applying for deferred action for the first time and the renewal applicants will now be issued work permits valid for three years. However, the temporary status of those who have already received DACA will be valid only for two years. They will receive deferred action for three years once they apply for DACA renewal when their current status expires.
According to the USCIS, February 18, 2015 will be the first day to request expanded DACA. All the undocumented immigrants who came here when they were minors and who meet the requirements can apply for DACA. Earlier only those below age 31 were allowed to apply for DACA but now, there is no upper age limit. USCIS has also stated that the parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders eligible for temporary relief from deportation under Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) would be allowed to file applications in May 2015.
President Obama took unilateral action on immigration as the U.S. Congress failed to act. The Republican led House has now passed a bill that will fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only if the DACA program is ended. However, this bill may not be passed by the Senate as the Democrats have already stated that they will not approve any bill that would cancel President Obama’s immigration actions. Democrats have also stated that they will vote on the bill only if provisions to cancel DACA are removed from the bill. President Obama has also stated that he will not sign into law a bill that would roll back his immigration rule.
Those eligible for expanded DACA must not file their applications now. They need to remember that the USCIS will accept applications from them only from February 18, 2015. However, they can prepare their applications and keep the supporting documents ready. This will help them to submit their applications as soon as the USCIS starts accepting applications.