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Homeland Security releases data on deferred action applications

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In an update to an important story we have written about previously on our Washington, D.C. blog, the Department of Homeland Security has recently released early statistics about applications for the deferred action program. Announced earlier in the year by President Obama, the deferred action program began taking applications just over one month ago on Aug. 15.

In that span, over 82,000 illegal immigrants have submitted their initial paperwork and, surprisingly, 29 people have already received approval. Immigration officials had cautioned that a high volume of applications could delay processing by a few months, but it appears that Homeland Security has devoted additional resources to processing the applications.

As we have mentioned in earlier posts, those who seek the two-year deferred action must progress through a series of steps before reaching final approval. After Homeland Security receives the initial application, immigrants are then given a date to provide fingerprints and a photograph that will be used to investigate one's criminal record. Once that step is completed, immigration officials issue a final ruling on the application.

In addition to a two-year reprieve from the threat of deportation, successful applicants typically receive a work permit. The deferred action program is part of Homeland Security's emphasis on deporting those illegal immigrants with criminal records while sparing those who have not committed prior crimes. Having certain crimes, including felonies and serious misdemeanors, on one's criminal record makes one ineligible for deferred action.

The program has other requirements as well, including those for age and residency. Potential applicants should examine the law's criteria before they submit an application.

Source: The New York Times, "U.S. Says Fast Pace Continues on Reprieves for Young Immigrants," Julia Preston, Sept. 14, 2012

• A grant of deferred action provides no promise of U.S. citizenship, however. If you would like to learn more about the path to citizenship, please visit our Washington, D.C. naturalization and citizenship page.

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