November 25, 2014

There has been much discussion over the last week about the President’s announcement of Executive Action.  The term “deferred action” may not be familiar to many folks, and thus, it’s also unclear what sort of benefits one would get by applying for it.  If you are eligible, there are a number of factors which we recommend you consider:

  1. Deportation Protection:  Deferred action is an acknowledgment by the U.S. Government that it knows you’re in the U.S., and it has chosen not to deport you.  Someone with deferred action is protected from deportation.
  2. Employment authorization: The most visible benefit of this status is that it comes with employment authorization.  When applying for deferred action, you will also submit an application for employment authorization, and if deferred action is granted, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will also send you an employment authorization card.
  3. Social Security: With the employment authorization card, you can apply for a Social Security card, start contributing to Social Security retirement, and building a credit history.
  4. Driver’s License: Once you get your Social Security card, you can apply for a driver’s license or state identification card.  Obviously, with a license, you can drive a car, be insured, and not worry about the police calling Immigration on you if you get pulled over.
  5. Overseas Travel: In very limited circumstances, folks with deferred action may be allowed to travel abroad.  These circumstances generally involve an emergency situation, and for more information, please see our website.
  6. Peace of Mind: Additionally, there is a lot of peace of mind knowing that you are living in the U.S. with immigration status.
  7. Civic Engagement: Some school districts require FBI record checks of all parents before they can volunteer, and with Deferred Action, you can freely participate in your children’s school activities.

In other words, many will be able to come out of living in the shadows.

We at the IIIC are still supportive of comprehensive immigration reform, passed by Congress.  Such reform would be more permanent and would not be dependent on the current President’s agenda.  Unfortunately, CIR was not possible now, and deferred action is the next best thing.  Of course it could be revoked in the future, but history has told us that it could also lead to a more permanent status in the future.

Whenever applying for an immigration benefit, it is important to weigh the risks with the benefits.  While there is a risk that the program could end in the future, the benefits are substantial.  We look forward to helping you apply for deferred action.  Remember that no one can apply for the president’s new deferred action program yet, so please be cautious of anyone advising otherwise.  Applicants should speak with a licensed immigration attorney before proceeding with any application.

For more information, please come to one of the IIIC’s Deferred Action informational sessions where the IIIC’s attorneys will be available to answer general questions about these new programs.  For any immigration questions you might have, visit one of IIIC’s weekly legal clinics for a free, confidential consultation with a licensed immigration lawyer.

Disclaimer:  This article is published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases.   For legal advice seek the assistance of the IIIC’s immigration legal staff.  For further information, call the IIIC at 617-542-7654 or check our website www.iiicenter.org

Executive Action / Deferred Action Benefits Advisory, 25th November 2014 (PDF)