DAPA Explained (Deferred Action for Parental Accountability)

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What is DAPA?

Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (“DAPA”) is a component of the “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” that provides temporary relief (“deferred action”) from deportation to parents of US citizens or legal permanent residents. DAPA is structurally similar to the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program currently administered by the USCIS in that they are both designed to provide temporary relief from deportation and work authorization (DAPA grants will last 3 years).

DAPA recipients will not be eligible for certain federal government benefits such as financial aid, food stamps, housing subsidies, and possibly benefits under the Affordable Care Act. The kinds of government benefits at the State level, such as driver’s and professional licenses, will vary from state to state. For example, deferred action recipients are currently eligible for driver’s licenses in a majority of states.

Who will be able to apply for DAPA?

Of the estimated 5 million unauthorized immigrants the White House estimates will be affected by the Immigration Accountability Executive Action, as much as 3.7 million unauthorized immigrants could be eligible for DAPA.

For an individual to be eligible for DAPA relief, they must:

  • Have a US citizen or lawful permanent resident son or daughter as of November 20, 2014;
  • Have continuously resided in the US since before January 1, 2010;
  • Have been physically present in the US on November 20, 2014 and at the time they file the application;
  • Have no lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014;
  • Not be an enforcement priority, which is defined to include individuals with certain criminal convictions (aggravated felonies, certain misdemeanors), those suspected of gang activity or terrorism, recent unlawful entrants, and certain other immigration law violators; and
  • Pass a background check.

Timing and Implementation

The measures implementing DAPA are slated to take place approximately 180 days from the President’s November 20, 2014 announcement. The USCIS has stated that their aim is to provide each applicant with receipt notification within 60 days of receiving the application, and to complete all applications received by the end of next year before the end of 2016. This is an ambitious goal, and will require a staff increase by the USCIS. However, the heightened cost associated with handling the enhanced workload will be funded through the application fees rather than appropriated funds (the current fee for a DACA application is $465).

A key aim of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action is to heighten the focus of enforcement and removal efforts on criminals and those who pose a threat to national security.  The DHS has instructed ICE and CBP officials to identify DACA/DAPA-eligible individuals already in their custody and exercise discretion favorably for those individuals.

How to prepare

Begin gathering and preparing documentation that evidences:

  • your identity;
  • relationship to a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident
  • continuous residence in the US over the last five years or more, including but not limited to financial records, apartment leases, insurance, bills, medical records, school records, employment records, military records, travel records, photographs, social media accounts etc.

Although implementation is still several months away, it is not too early to start preparing your records and to contact an immigration attorney if you believe you or a family member is eligible for DAPA.

For more information on the DAPA, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online

Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2014 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.