Frequently Asked Questions about Deferred Action

Do I Qualify for Deferred Action?

In order to qualify for Deferred Action under the President’s Directive, eligible individuals must:
•    Have arrived in the U.S. when they were under the age of sixteen.
•    Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 and have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.

•    Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces.
•    Not have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, three or more non-significant misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
•    Have been under thirty-one years old on June 15, 2012.

If you have ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime, speak to an attorney to see whether you qualify for Deferred Action.  You can also find more detailed information about the requirements for Deferred Action by reading U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services's most recent Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

What Should I Do Before I Apply for Deferred Action?

There are several things that DREAMers can do in order to be ready to submit their applications:

(1)    Get a copy of your birth certificate.

(2)    Get documentation that shows that you came to the U.S. before the age of 16 AND that you have resided in the U.S. for at least five (5) years AND that you were physically present in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012.  This documentation can include school records, financial records, medical records, employment records, military records, etc.

(3)    Get documentation that shows that you are currently in school, that you graduated from high school in the U.S., that you have a GED, or that you were honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces or Coast Guard.  This documentation can include school records, a high school or college diploma, a GED certificate, report cards, school transcripts or other evidence of enrollment, or documentation as an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard.  The easiest way to obtain school records is to request your cumulative school record from each school district that you attended in the United States. 

(4)    If you have EVER been arrested by the police or immigration agents, you also need to get a criminal background check from both the FBI and the California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ).  If you reside in the Los Angeles area, you can go to the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) for help obtaining your FBI record.  To obtain a Cal DOJ check, you need to appear at a Livescan site. Click here for a list of Livescan sites in your area.  Additionally, if you have EVER been convicted of a crime in court, you need to go to that court and get a certified copy of the record of conviction.

Public Counsel's intake packet also contains a complete document checklist, which shows all the items you will need in order to apply.

Should I Hire An Attorney to Process My Request for Deferred Action?

There is no rule that says you must have an attorney.  We strongly recommend that you at least obtain information from a reputable attorney or legal service agency – such as Public Counsel – to acquaint you with the application process and to learn if there are unique facts about your case that make legal representation critical.  Only a licensed attorney can properly advise you of any risks in applying for deferred action.   There are an estimated 800,000 people who may be eligible for Deferred Action, and Public Counsel will strive to provide current information about the application process and help provide legal assistance to those who want it.  Anyone with an arrest history should consult with an experienced attorney before applying.

What Should I Do If I Am Facing Imminent Deportation or Removal from the United States?

If you believe you are eligible for deferred action but face imminent removal from the United States, contact either the Law Enforcement Support Center’s hotline at 1-855-448-6903 (staffed 24/7), or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 9am –5pm, Monday through Friday) or

What Can I Do If I Am Not Eligible for Deferred Action?

The requirements for Deferred Action will prevent many deserving young people from obtaining any immigration benefits under President Obama’s new directive.  Although we applaud the President’s decision, we urge Congress to pass the full DREAM Act, which would provide a secure path to citizenship for qualified young people, including many that will not qualify for Deferred Action under this directive.  The fight for the DREAM Act is far from over.  For more information on what you can do to help fight for the DREAM Act, contact the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) or the California Dream Network, two local organizations at the forefront of effort to keep the DREAM Act alive in Congress.

How Can I Get Help in Spanish?

Public Counsel staff speak Spanish and can provide advice on Deferred Action in Spanish.  If you would like general information in Spanish on immigration law, the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) provides information on immigration law in Spanish on Tuesdays at 6:00 PM and Saturdays at 10:00 AM.  For more details, you can go to CARECEN’s website or contact them directly, either in person at 2845 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90005 or by phone at (213) 385-7800.  We encourage all immigrants to stay informed about immigration law, particularly those who are not eligible for Deferred Action.