“Deferred action” amounts to an excercise of favorable discretion by the authorities, which allows an individual to remain temporarily in the United States and apply for work authorization. It does not confer any kind of permanent residence, nor can it be seen as a form of amnesty.
Under this new initiative, deferred action would be granted for two year increments and would be renewable.
According to DHS, people may apply for deferred action if they meet all the following criteria:
- came to the U.S. under the age of 16;
- are not above the age of 30;
- have resided in the U.S. for 5 consecutive years as of the date of the memo;
- are currently in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a GED or have been honorably discharged from the armed forces; and
- have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanors, multiple misdemeanors or who do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Specifically, DHS advised that:
Effective immediately, ICE, CBP, and USCIS agents should not place individuals into removal proceedings who meet the above criteria.
For those already IN immigration proceedings and who have been offered administrative closure under the previous prosecutorial discretion program, ICE will begin making determinations about deferred action immediately. For other persons who are in removal proceedings, ICE is directed to implement the program within 60 days.
For those NOT in removal proceedings, which is the vast majority of individuals affected by the new announcement, USCIS has been directed to devise a plan within 60 days that allows people 15 and older to affirmatively apply for both deferred action and work authorization (those granted deferred action through ICE will apply to USCIS for work authorization as well). People with final orders of removal will also apply to USCIS.