Thousands of illegal Caribbean immigrants stand to benefit from a new immigration program that will allow them to avoid deportation and obtain work permits in the United States.
On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced details of documents that illegal immigrants would need to prove that they are eligible for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The announcement came a day before US Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for the programme and sparked a rush to organize paperwork by those eager to participate.
The administration’s plan is to stop deporting many illegal immigrants who were brought to the US as children. To be eligible, immigrants must prove they arrived in the United States before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, have been living in the US for at least five years and are in school or graduated or served in the military. They also cannot have been convicted of certain crimes or otherwise pose a safety threat.
According to the guidelines announced on Tuesday, proof of identity and eligibility could include a passport or birth certificate, school transcripts, medical and financial records and military service records.
The DHS said that in some instances, multiple sworn affidavits, signed by a third party under penalty of perjury, could also be used. Anyone found to have committed fraud will be referred to federal immigration agents, the department said.
Alejandro Mayorkas, director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, stressed that being approved to avoid deportation “does not provide lawful status or a path to citizenship.”
The paperwork for the program can be downloaded from the Immigration Services website. Applicants must pay a $465 fee and provide proof of identity and eligibility.
A decision on each application could take several months, and immigrants have been warned not to leave the country while their application is pending. If they are allowed to stay in the United States and want to travel internationally, they will need to apply for permission to come back into the country, a request that would cost $360 more.
Advocacy groups across the United States are planning events starting this week to help immigrants fill out their applications and get all their paperwork in order.
Read more: Caribbean 360