In November 2014, the President announced a series of immigration-related executive actions. The two plans that have received the most media attention are the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (commonly referred to as DACA) and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (referred to as DAPA).
The expanded DACA program will increase the amount of people who will be eligible for DACA by removing the age restriction for applicants as long as they entered the U.S. before they were 16 and have been continuously living in the country since January 1, 2010. The expanded program will also extend (from two years to three years) the entire deferred action period and work authorization.
The DAPA program is a very similar initiative for deferred deportation and eligibility for work authorization that is reserved for applicants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
USCIS Prepares for DACA and DAPA Applications
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is anticipating that hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals will apply for DACA and DAPA. USCIS will begin accepting DACA applications on February 18, 2015, and it will start to accept DAPA applications in mid-May 2015.
Since these dates are rapidly approaching, USCIS is already making its preparations to ensure the quick and efficient processing of the huge influx in applications it predicts it will receive in the coming months. For example, USCIS plans to work with a contractor who will be responsible for opening the DACA and DAPA packages and entering the applications into the USCIS system. USCIS intends to implement 6am to 11:30pm shifts in order to ensure the applications are entered into the system on a timely basis. Since USCIS believes it will receive as many as 800,000 applications in just the first three months, these measures will be necessary for the agency to keep up with the increased caseload.
Additionally, USCIS is also seeking bids from contractors for the creation and printing of the work permits that will be provided to the foreign nationals whose DACA and DAPA applications are approved. The agency has also been running job advertisements for the new employees it will need to hire and train to process the incoming applications.
USCIS Procedures for Reviewing DACA and DAPA Applications
To ensure each application is handled with the appropriate care and attention, USCIS will require two workers to be present during the opening and initial review of each application. One worker must possess a secret-level security clearance. These workers will check and confirm the criminal records and the identification documents for each application.
It is indeed heartening to finally witness real progress in the sphere of immigration reform. While the President’s executive actions are not permanent legislation, the fact that USCIS is moving forward with implementing the DACA and DAPA programs shows that the country may be well on its way to making these temporary programs a permanent reality. Continue to check with our blog for the most up to date news on the executive action and all other immigration-related issues.
Additional Blog Posts
Immigration Judges Request Separation from the Department of Justice, ImmigRantings, August 19, 2013
Congress Attempts to Implement Measures to Protect Immigrants from Notarios, ImmigRantings, September 27, 2013