The Legal Aid Society Is Helping Young Immigrants In New York City To Seek Deferred Action Under the Federal Government's New Policy

As a result of the June 15th Executive action by the federal government, The Legal Aid Society is already experiencing a significant increase in requests for legal help from young people who may be eligible for Deferred Action.    

For those individuals who qualify and whose applications are eventually granted, Deferred Action will be extremely beneficial.  It will mean that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not seek to deport the individual, and  the person will be eligible to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) valid for two years.  With an EAD, a qualified individual can work lawfully in the U.S., obtain a driver’s license, and essentially live without the constant fear of deportation.

To establish eligibility for Deferred Action under this Executive Action, the individual must: 

1) have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;

2) have been in the United States on June 15, 2012 and have continuously resided in the United States for the five years preceding that date;

3) currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

4) not have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

5) not be above the age of thirty one. 

Already the phones in our Immigration Law Unit are ringing off the hook with calls from young people who are seeking to contribute their talents, hard work and initiative to our country. Even before this Executive action, we could only help one out of every nine immigrants who came to us seeking assistance with their immigration status but without the ability to enforce their rights on their own in the absence of our legal assistance.  The demand for our legal help will increase exponentially as a result of this Executive action that will affect hundreds of thousands of deserving immigrant youth.  

The Legal Aid Society will collaborate with community-based partners and other legal services providers to ensure that New York immigrants eligible for this benefit receive comprehensive advice and quality representation.  Immigration law is very complicated so we encourage eligible immigrants to contact reputable immigration attorneys or legal services organizations before filing an application.   Immigrants who have had prior interactions with the criminal justice system should obtain a certificate of disposition and consult with an attorney familiar with the intersection between criminal and immigration law before submitting an application for Deferred Action.  Additionally, immigrants who currently have criminal court cases should inform their criminal defense attorneys that they qualify for Deferred Action and so cannot plead to a criminal disposition that would disqualify them.  All immigrants are cautioned to avoid notarios, travel agents and unscrupulous providers.  

The DHS should implement this initiative by August 15, 2012.  In the meantime, the Society's Immigration Law Unit has provided a Fact Sheet in English, Spanish, French and Chinese with information on documents that can be used to establish eligibility for Deferred Action.   


DREAM Deferred Action Factsheet – English

DREAM Deferred Action Factsheet – Spanish

DREAM Deferred Action Factsheet – French

DREAM Deferred Action Factsheet – Chinese