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What is Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and Who Will Qualify?

December 10, 2014
Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that he will take certain executive actions on immigration in the absence of a Congressional fix to our immigration system. See our blog post summarizing his entire announcement here. One of the programs President Obama announced is Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or “DAPA.”  Though offering similar benefits, DAPA is different than Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which the Obama Administration announced in 2012 and is still operational.


Am I eligible for DAPA?

If you meet the following requirements, you may be eligible to apply.

  • You have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident son or daughter (who was born on or before 11/20/2014);
  • You have lived in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;
  • You had no lawful status on November 20, 2014;
  • You are not an “enforcement priority.”

How do I know if I’m an enforcement priority?

You may be a priority for enforcement if you have any of the following on your record:

  • Criminal convictions or other public safety issues, such as:
    • A felony conviction (either categorized as a felony by the state or federal law, or an “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes, which may, in some cases, include certain misdemeanors, depending on the sentence you receive. Note:  this does not include state or local offenses that make your immigration status a crime).
    • Three or more misdemeanor convictions arising from three separate incidents (this does not include what the government describes as “minor traffic offenses”, such as driving without a license, it also does not include state or local offenses that make your immigration status a crime).
    • A “serious” misdemeanor conviction like a DUI, domestic violence, drug trafficking, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, or unlawful possession or use of a firearm. Also, this could be any misdemeanor where you spent more than 90 days in jail.
    • Membership in a criminal street gang.
  • Previous immigration violations, which include the following:
    • You were caught attempting to enter the U.S. illegally at the border.
    • You have been determined to have “significantly abused” the visa or visa waiver programs.

Oh no! I might be a priority for enforcement. What can I do?

Even if you are described by one of the above enforcement categories, there may be an opportunity to try to convince USCIS that you are not actually an enforcement priority, and should be granted DAPA. This is something you should discuss with an immigration attorney before applying in order not to t expose yourself to unnecessary risk.

If you have ever been arrested, stopped by police, seen a judge, or been fingerprinted, you should talk with an immigration lawyer before applying for DAPA to determine if you are eligible.


What are the benefits of DAPA?

Applicants who receive DAPA approvals will:

  • Receive deferred action, which is a promise from the government that it will not deport an individual for the period of deferred action (as long as he or she remains eligible).
  • Be eligible to apply for work authorization.

Deferred action and the corresponding work authorization will last for three years as long as an individual remains eligible.  If after an individual’s DAPA is approved, he or she is convicted of a crime that disqualifies him or her from DAPA, the government could revoke the deferred action and put that person in deportation proceedings.


When can I file? And how much will it cost?

While we are still waiting to receive official guidance from USCIS, we have a few predictions.

  • We believe the government filing fee will be $465.
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services should begin accepting applications during May 2015 (as of right now, it is not yet possible to apply for DAPA).

How can I prepare?

See our prior blog posting on preparing for Executive Action here.  While we are not sure exactly what will be required, you can start to gather certain documents that will likely be required:

Don’t forget, it is not yet possible to file an application under President Obama’s plan. Seek advice from a qualified attorney or organization accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Notaries or “notarios” are NOT attorneys and are NOT qualified or authorized to give immigration advice. Learn more here.

If you or a loved one may qualify for DAPA, you can contact one of the attorneys at Minsky, McCormick and Hallagan, P.C. here.


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