Monthly Archives: August 2012

THE DREAM GOES ON….DEFERRED ACTION

As many of you may know August 15 was the kick of day for people to apply for the Deferred Action benefit, this has brought a lot of excitement to all the people who can benefit from it.

            We have had many people come into our office to obtain information about the requirements, as well as people who believe they are ready to send in the application. What we are asking from everyone is to take the time to gather all that is needed, because this is a “one shot” type of deal and if it’s denied you will not be able to appeal.

            We would also like for people to be careful who they go to when filing this, this is something that should not be done by a “notario”(notary public), “the tax person”, or any other individual who is not a qualified individual to do so; you can come to us, look for another community organization or just go to an attorney. Also, if you decide to do it on your own, make sure to at least to do a consultation with a qualified individual.

We would like to provide you with some guidance as to what the requirements are, so here’s the list and a few websites that might help you out with this journey. Good luck to all of you!!

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;  
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Also make sure you check out the following websites for more info

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A quick word of thanks for USCIS

At an outreach event earlier this week we were confronted by a questioner who asked us to detail the various delays and complications and headaches created by “the government bureaucracy.” While we acknowledge that some of our work involves classic bureaucracy — centralized hotlines for obtaining basic answers, redundant information on various forms, etc — we have to give credit where it is due and say that we appreciate the work USCIS does.

In recent years USCIS, and especially our local Reno Field Office, has appeared to make major strides in improving its efficiency, clearing case backlogs, and providing improved customer service. We are fortunate to have a very responsive local field office and that allows us to be the best possible advocates for our clients.

Additionally, we have recently been experiencing a more rapid response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The increased centralization of USCIS records creates a double-edged sword when it comes to analyzing clients’ cases. On the one hand, all the information is in one place and once we obtain it we can feel confident that we understand most or all of a client’s immigration history. On the other hand, FOIA requests have historically taken many months, often in the range of 12-15 months.

Recently we have been experiencing more rapid responses and USCIS appears to have been devoting increased resources to clearing the backlog of FOIA requests to provide a better level of service. Even more importantly, FOIAs are now assigned tracking numbers so we can keep a pulse on the progress of our requests.

The relationship between USCIS and advocates like us will never be one of complete camaraderie, and government agencies are probably as often frustrated by our zealous advocacy for our clients as we are by perceived intransigence by USCIS. But overall we consider ourselves privileged to have a good and improving relationship with a government agency that provides a good and improving level of service and responsiveness.

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DEFERRED ACTION UPDATE: Teleconference with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas

We just joined Mr. Mayorkas on a teleconference, where he provided us with some new information regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. Here some of the points that were discussed:

  • The form will NOT be available and/or accepted by USCIS until August 15, 2012
  • The applicant can have obtained his/her GED after June 15, 2012
  • If the case is denied an appeal will not be available
  • Only those who are currently detained will have to start the process with ICE. All other applicants will make the request directly through USCIS.
  • Individuals with a felony or multiple misdemeanor charges will NOT be eligible
  • An interview will not be required, unless there’s a concern about the applicant
  • Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances

Although U. S Citizenship and Immigration Services provided us with more information today, they did inform us that more details will come up as we near August 15, 2012. We ask for everyone to have some “Patience” as mentioned on a previous blog, and please make sure you seek help from the right people. Here’s a link to help you avoid scams: www.uscis.gov/avoidscams know that the forms are still being developed by USCIS and will be available on August 15, 2012.

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BREAKING: teleconference now on Deferred Action

Just moments ago we received an email from our Community Relations Officer with USCIS that there is a confernece call going on at 11:00am PST regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process.

We’ll keep you updated with any new information that comes out.

UPDATE: See new USCIS announcement at this Web site.

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Guns N’ Roses and…Deferred Action?

What can Guns N’ Roses tell us about the new Deferred Action process for undocumented young people, also known as “DREAMers”? Probably not much, but at least one of the band’s songs contains an important lesson for the immigrant community and their advocates: “Patience.”

Congressional testimony by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and rumor-mill speculation had most of the immigrant community (our program included) waiting with bated breath for new details on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and these details were ostensibly to be released August 1 or 2. Both of those days have come and gone, and we’re no better informed about this exciting process than we were on June 15 when it was announced.

But, as Axl Rose cautions us: “…take it slow, and it’ll work itself out fine / All we need is just a little patience.”

What if DACA is not in effect on August 15? What if applications aren’t accepted until September 1, or September 15? Who will be harmed? The answer may just be “Nobody.”

Granted, it has been more than ten years since the last major expansion of eligibility for immigration benefits for undocumented immigrants, and in the intervening years we have seen Republican and Democratic administrations frustrated in their efforts to pass immigration reforms in an increasingly polarized political system. The feeling throughout the immigration community that “¡Ya es hora!” and that some new solution is greatly overdue is a valid feeling, and it is one that we share.

Our concern is that we have been talking with more and more families over the last two months that seem to be scrambling to find someone to take on their DACA cases, and this creates enormous potential for fraud. When the accredited non-profit immigration programs in town offer the humble and honest answers of “We don’t know yet,” and “We’ll have to see exactly what the process looks like,” it opens the door for notarios, unscrupulous attorneys, and all kinds of other unqualified practitioners to prey upon immigrant families desperate for some form of relief.

At the same time, some observers are skeptical about DACA because it is just a change in policy that could be reversed by this president or his successor at a moment’s whim. We think it is unlikely that this would happen — deporting young people is not exactly good PR — but the risk remains.

So whether your concern is deciding whether or not to apply for DACA based upon who wins the November election or just making sure that every i is dotted and t is crossed in your DACA application, it seems like the best course of action is to work steadily toward your goals, gather the necessary documents, select an immigration practitioner you can trust, and stay tuned for the latest details about the case.

After all, sometimes all we need is just a little patience.

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