Summary: Temporary Immigration Relief for Young Persons

Below is a general summary from Deborah A. Marlowe on the temporary immigration relief that will be provided to certain young persons without immigration status. Detailed guidance about the process has not yet been provided by the immigration service. It is important to note that this new policy does not provide a path to permanent residence (a green card).   


President Announces Temporary Relief for Young Persons Without Immigration Status 

June 15, 2012

President Obama today announced that his administration will offer temporary relief from deportation -- known as deferred action -- to certain young persons without immigration status who came to the United States before the age of 16, have lived here continuously for five years, and meet other eligibility criteria. 

Deferred action does not grant any temporary or permanent immigration status. Rather, the government is choosing to exercise its discretion not to seek removal ("deportation") of eligible young persons from the United States. Those granted deferred action will be able to remain in the United States for a renewable period of two years and can seek permission to work. However, the new policy does not provide them a path to permanent residence. 

The Department of Homeland Security is expected to provide comprehensive information on the new policy in the coming days and weeks. Key initial details are described below. 

Who Is Eligible for Relief? 

The new policy will apply to foreign nationals age 30 or younger who:
  • Came to the United States before age 16;
  • Have resided in the United States for a continuous period of at least five years as of June 15, 2012; 
  • Are present in the United States on June 15, 2012; 
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED certificate, or were honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and 
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, or do not otherwise pose a threat to U.S. national security or public safety.

How Do Eligible Foreign Nationals Seek Relief? 

Eligible young persons who are currently in removal proceedings will be able to apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have their cases reviewed in light of the new policy. Young persons not in removal proceedings or who have already been ordered to leave the United States will be able to apply to DHS for deferred action. 

Applicants will be required to pass a background check and submit documentation to show that they are eligible for relief. Evidence can include medical, financial, school, employment and military records. 

Deferred action will be granted at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security. It will not be conferred automatically on those who apply. 

What Are the Next Steps for Those Who Want to Apply? 

The Department of Homeland Security is not yet accepting applications from eligible young persons, but is expected to do so within 60 days. The agency is expected to provide more information about the process and eligibility criteria in the coming days. 

Deborah A. Marlowe
Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP