The announcement made by the President on November 20, 2014 regarding the new proposed immigration changes that, among other things, will expand the DACA program and create a new process for parents of citizens and legal residents similar to DACA. The process is being called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). Below is a general description of the upcoming process based on the information released so far.
First of all, who will benefit? The two main groups of immigrants that this process is intended to help are existing and future DACA applicants and undocumented parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident children currently living in the US.
How long is the process good for? The government is suggesting that the DACA process and the new DAPA program each have an approval that must be renewed every three years. The current approval period for DACA is two years.
As a parent, how do I qualify? The current guidelines say that the parent must prove continuous residence in the United States since January 1, 2010, that they are the parents of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident born on or before November 20, 2014 and that the parent must not be in the category that is an enforcement priority for removal from the United States.
When will this go into effect? According to most information, it will take a minimum of five months before we see anything concrete from Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) since they have to create all the guidelines and the application process. This estimate assumes there are no legal battles between Congress and the President. It is more likely than not that there will be additional legal problems with this proposal since there are many very complicated issues involved. Parents looking into this process should keep in mind that this process could very easily be cancelled by the President before it is even enacted.
What can I do in the meantime? Until the process is official, it is very important to not file anything or pay anyone to help you with the filing. There are many unethical people out there who prey upon the ignorance of immigrants all the time, but especially when there is a big announcement about a new immigration process. This can also apply to actual attorneys who may charge a fee for work-shops or seminars to help people get the process started before the program starts. Do not fall for these scams.
How can I be prepared when the process begins? You can do many things yourself to prepare for this new process. You should collect documents that show your presence in the US for the last 5 years such as medical records, work records, pay stubs, bills and school records. You should also find copies of birth certificates for you and your children and get translations if the document is not already written in English. Organizing and obtaining important documents is a big part of any immigration application process.