On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that, effective immediately, it will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to an estimated 800,000 immigrants who unlawfully entered or remained in the United States as children, and who have since led law-abiding lives, do not pose a security threat, and would otherwise be eligible for the so-called “DREAM” Act, which is currently stalled in Congress.

To be eligible under the “deferred action” executive order, the individual must:

  • Be 15-30 years old and have entered/been brought to the United States before reaching the age of 16;
  • Have been present in the United States for five years as of June 15, 2012 (the date when this administrative action takes effect);
  • Have maintained continuous residence in the United States;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanors; and
  • Currently be enrolled in school, graduated or have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran.

This change in policy confers no temporary or permanent immigration status. Deferred action is a determination to defer the removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Although a person granted deferred action will not accrue unlawful presence in the United States during the period deferred action is in effect, deferred action does not absolve individuals of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.

Eligible immigrants will be able to apply for work authorization that will be valid for two years and can be renewed indefinitely. The deferred action offer will be available to those in deportation proceedings, as well as to those who apply to DHS.

Additional Information

DHS is currently not accepting applications for deferred action but is expected to begin doing so within 60 days. It is anticipated that DHS will provide more information about eligibility for deferred action in the near future.


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Ogletree Deakins has one of the largest business immigration practices in the United States and provides a wide range of legal services for employers seeking temporary business visas and permanent residence on behalf of foreign national employees.

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