Last Friday, Senators Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham announced a bipartisan bill intended to provide relief to those currently holding protected status under the DACA program ("Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals"). Titled the "Bridge Act," the bill-if passed into law-would extend deferred status and work authorization to not only those who currently have DACA but also those who, for whatever reason, are eligible for DACA but have not yet applied. The "provisional protected presence" status would reportedly last for a period of three years. Like DACA, there would be eligibility requirements and background checks that would have to be satisfied before any grant. Also like DACA, the protected status would not lead to or graduate into permanent residence. It merely provides a deferred status that protects the individual from removal and allows the opportunity for work authorization.
As President Trump's inauguration nears, it is increasingly important-if not critical-for DACA recipients to explore their options. There is no assurance, by any measure, that this proposed bill will gain any traction or have any chance of materializing into something substantial. However, for some, there may have been important events or changes in circumstances during the time they held DACA, that impact eligibility for permanent residence. For example, some of these triggers may materially change whether an individual may apply for a green card:
· Travel on advance parole
· Marriage to a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
· A family member becoming an "Immediate Relative" under the immigration law, ie., a United States Citizen child turning 21
· An approved employment petition which now has a "current" visa availability date (or imminent one)
· An approved family based petition which now has a "current" visa availability date (or imminent one)
· The successful reopening and rescinding of a Removal Order
· Been abused by a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse
· Been the victim of a crime
These are just some circumstances that should be discussed and explored with an attorney. They are, by no means, exhaustive. At the same time, there may also be negative factors that have arisen since a grant of DACA that also affect the prospects for any affirmative or defensive relief. For example, if an individual has:
· Been convicted of a crime
· Charged with a crime
· Been arrested for or convicted for Driving While Intoxicated
· Traveled outside the US without advance parole
· Lied or made a misrepresentation in connection with immigration benefits
· Claimed to be a US Citizen
· Divorced from a USC or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse
· Been advised that an employer no longer wishes to continue sponsorship
· Been advised that a petitioning family member no longer wishes to continue sponsorship
Again, the above list is not a complete list. It is merely illustrative of some of the types of situations that-for good or bad-affect what a person may or may not be able to do if DACA is indeed terminated by President-elect Trump.
Like many things in immigration, every case is fact sensitive. One simple incident or occurrence can make a crucial difference between two otherwise very similar situations. For more information on what potential options may be available to those holding DACA status, please contact our office for a confidential consultation.
The foregoing is general information/opinion only. It is not legal advice nor should it be relied upon as such. It does not create an attorney-client relationship.