Foreign NationalIn Georgia, there are many undocumented foreign nationals who have been living in our communities and contributing to our society and the state’s economy for years.  Unfortunately, for the most part their undocumented status has prevented them from obtaining work authorization, drivers’ licenses, and other benefits.  Thankfully, these disadvantages will no longer pose obstacles to these foreign nationals as President Obama’s recently announced executive action specifically provides certain types of immigration-related relief (including work authorization) for many different segments of the undocumented population.

The President’s executive action will benefit multiple classes of foreign nationals, including parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders).  The program that will help parents is called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability or “DAPA” for short.  In breaking news, the Department of Homeland Security recently announced that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting DAPA applications on May 19, 2015.

Since May 19 is rapidly approaching, read on to learn more about DAPA eligibility.  If you or a loved one thinks that you may qualify for this program, contact our office immediately to speak to an experienced immigration attorney about your case.

Basic Eligibility Requirements for DAPA

As stated, to qualify for DAPA, the individual must be the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident as of November 20, 2014.  In addition, the individual must have been continuously residing in the U.S. since January 1, 2010.  The individual must also be able to pass routine background and criminal checks so if the parent has an extensive or serious criminal record – or has been found to be a national security threat to the U.S. – the parent will not be eligible for DAPA.

It is important to highlight that USCIS has not yet published the official detailed regulations on DAPA eligibility, so there may be a number of additional conditions that must be met to qualify (such as a certain age requirement of the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident child, or an expanded condition that allows step-parents and/or adoptive-parents to qualify).  Continue to check back with our office for the most up-to-date DAPA information!

Application Procedure

While we won’t know the precise DAPA application procedure until USCIS publishes the regulations, we have a good idea of what documents will be required and can begin to gather and prepare those materials in the meantime.

For example, we know that we will have to prove that the applicant meets the basic eligibility to requirements outlined above.  To prove parentage, the applicant should have a copy of the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident’s birth certificate that lists the applicant’s name.  (Please note this will be necessary for biological parents – if step and/or adoptive parents are eligible for DAPA, different documents will likely be required).

Additionally, the applicant should also have a photo id and proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship (the birth certificate may also fulfill this requirement if the child was born in the U.S.) or permanent residence (such as a copy of the child’s green card).

To prove continuous residence, the applicant should be able to provide copies of utility or rent bills, paystubs, or similar evidence that would cover the applicable residence period.  Sometimes these more traditional types of evidence are difficult to obtain.  In these cases, the applicants – with their attorney’s guidance – get creative and may submit Facebook posts that indicate residence in the U.S., Instagram photos that show the applicant at a U.S. landmark on a particular date, or similar types of social media documentation.

Luckily, working with an experienced Georgia immigration attorney will help DAPA applicants prepare all of the necessary documentation for the application.  To learn more about hiring an immigration attorney, contact our office today.  We look forward to speaking with you!