Dream Act Insights

Education Becoming a Reality for Undocumented Students.
The Dream Act, also known as the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, was first
introduced in Congress in 2001 to provide a pathway for undocumented youth to legally stay in the U.S., go to college, and ultimately gain legal status after fulfilling certain requirements such as attending college or enlisting in the U.S. Armed Forces. Supporters of the DREAM Act believe it is imperative not only to the individuals who would benefit from this important legislation, but also to the country, which would benefit in many ways, including economically. The Act offers an opportunity for undocumented students who have lived in the U.S. since they were children, to give back by utilizing their education and talents.  Statistics from the National Immigration Law Center estimate approximately 65,000 undocumented students graduate from high school every year and this trend is expected to continue.  If enacted by Congress, the DREAM Act would provide these young people the possibility of obtaining conditional permanent residency. Guidelines would be established that set out the path to qualify for conditional permanent residency under the DREAM Act. Two of the options under the DREAM Act guidelines would be to attend college or enlist in the U.S. military; fulfilling either of these requirements would eventually allow these young people to apply for U.S. citizenship.

What are the eligibility requirements under the proposed DREAM Act?
Individuals must have been 15 years old or younger when they entered the United States. If a student were 16 when he or she entered the United States, that student would not qualify under the DREAM Act. Individuals must have resided in the United States for at least five consecutive years prior to the passing of the DREAM Act. Individuals must have graduated from a U.S. high school, or have obtained a GED, or have been accepted into an institution of higher education, such as a college or university.  Individuals must be between 12 and 35 years of age when they apply for conditional permanent residency.  Individual must have demonstrated good moral character. What will be considered good moral character? While the DREAM Act does not specifically outline the guideline in regards to good moral character, it can be best described as a law-abiding person of the United States.

And if the DREAM Act passes?
If this immigration legislation is to become law, eligible, undocumented young men and women may apply for conditional permanent residency through the DREAM Act. Conditional Permanent Residency is similar in some ways to Legal Permanent Residency in that you would be able to work, drive, and travel in the United States. Individuals would not be able to travel abroad for long periods of time for a period of six years.

What would it mean if Conditional Permanent Residency is approved under the proposed DREAM Act?
Individuals would need to enroll in an institution of higher learning in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher graduate degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., etc.; or enlist in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Services. Individuals will also be eligible for student loans and federal work-study programs. It is also important to note that within six years of being granted conditional permanent residency, the individual must complete at least two years of college or military service. If this requirement is not met, the individual will be disqualified from the process. Once five and a half years of the six years have passed, the individual can file for adjustment of status in order to remove the conditionality of their permanent residency. Eventually, the person can file for U.S. citizenship once all requirements are fulfilled.

Consideration of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process)
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status. If you need further information and cannot find it on this Web page or in our Frequently Asked Questions, you may contact our National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

Guidelines:
You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood
arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

For additional information, go to U.S. CIS website at
http://www.uscis.gov/

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