Two weeks have passed since the DREAM Act floodgates officially opened. For those officially qualified to begin the extensive application process, this date could not have arrived soon enough. Many immigrant children eligible for this program have long been trapped between a rock and a hard place. The directive issued by the Obama administration in June was intended to give relief to this specific group of undocumented youth. Those ultimately accepted will be granted a conditional two-year reprieve from deportation and a chance to get a work permit. No longer will they have to worry about being exploited by someone taking advantage of their lack of residency nor pay them less than minimum wage or work them unreasonable hours. They will now have full protection under the very laws they had reason to fear just a few months ago.
Thousands are currently in the process of gathering the required documentation to apply for what is technically known as “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” Many others have already submitted all of the necessary paperwork and are forced to play the waiting game, their fate now in the hands of a Consular official.
These children, brought here at an early age by their parents, lack legal papers. They had no input in their parents’ decision. Their memories of a distant birth place are blurs. Although their status here is technically illegal, the United States is what they consider home. They have done their best in school; in fact many are high achievers.
There are four main criteria for a successful application: age, long term residency, education, and good moral character. In our post 9/11 world, no immigration officer is going to grant deferred action without solid evidence that each requirement is fulfilled. The college and military requirements help ensure the U.S. recoups their investment in these children. The goals for those who benefit from the DREAM Act program include finding a good-paying job, paying their fair share of taxes and contributing to their communities.
If you decide to retain legal services to help you with the complicated application process, consider this a wise investment in your future. But as any immigration attorney will tell you, almost all immigration programs suffer severe backlogs. Despite the tireless efforts of exceptionally qualified immigration attorneys and staff, conditional lawful residence is not guaranteed. Unfortunately, there are no immigration rubber stamps. It is very important for every applicant to understand that this is a rather involved process and it does take time. Your responsible preparation and patience are critical.