DHS to Give Work Permits to Certain Undocumented Individuals

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a major announcement Friday, indicating that beginning sometime in the next 60 days, certain undocumented individuals who have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years will be eligible for deferred action from deportation and will be given work permits for 2 years.  And their status and work permits will be renewable.   

To be eligible, the individuals (1) must have entered the U.S. prior to age 16 and be under age 30, (2) they must be in high school, have graduated high school, or  received an honorable discharge from the U.S. military, and (3) must have good moral character. 

This goes beyond the previously proposed “Dream Act” which contemplated requiring the individual to be in college or have a U.S. college degree.   Deferred Action means that the Government recognizes that the person is deportable but will defer any action to deport the individual.

Estimates are that up to 800,000 young individuals in the U.S. may qualify for this benefit.  California generally has at least 25% of the U.S. foreign national population which means this could affect over 200,000 Californians. 

The Obama Administration used their executive authority to grant deferred action as the legal basis to offer this benefit.  The rule underscores how date sensitive immigration cases are.  Individuals who won’t qualify include those who entered the U.S. on or after age 16, or have not yet lived here continuously for 5 years, or are age 30 or over.    

The Government will be issuing more details in the ensuing weeks.  The CDF Immigration Practice Group can assist with further questions.
The initial DHS announcement is available here.

For more information about immigration issues, we invite you to attend CDF's complimentary webinar on June 20, 2012, which will cover a variety of important immigration law issues.  For more information and to register, click here.