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Deferred Action Forum Main Points

Tonight’s Community Forum on Deferred Action (DA) for Dreamers hosted by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) was packed by an enthusiastic crowd from all ages and backgrounds.  A panel of immigration lawyers were also on hand to give advice and pointers to Dreamers considering applying for DA.

For those of you who were unable to attend this amazing event, here are some key take-away points:

  1. Start gathering your documents now! You should start gathering all evidence that establishes you were in the U.S. prior to turning 16, that you are in school or graduated, any evidence of military service and evidence establishing how you’ve been here the last 5 years. We cannot stress enough that when the official process opens up in August, how busy every agency will get and obtaining records from public institutions will be harder when hundreds of thousands are trying to do the same. So start now, and beat the crowds! 
  2. If you have any sort of criminal history, talk to a Lawyer! No matter how minor you think your “criminal history” is including obtaining a false driver’s license or social security card –  do not apply for DA without first consulting an attorney! There are things you can do to safeguard yourself and an attorney can properly advise you in this scenario.
  3. Start saving your money now! The process of applying for DA including obtaining a work permit will be expensive. Although we do not yet know what the cost of filing a DA application will be, we do know that a work permit application costs $380 and a biometrics fingerprint test costs $85.  Then you have to account for the legal fees you pay a qualified lawyer to file your case. Not to mention the costs of acquiring copies of some of your documents, including school transcripts etc. Therefore, start saving your money now to be better prepared for this opportunity.
  4. Get a valid Passport because it is likely the safest way to prove your identity. Visit your consulate and apply for a passport and do it soon. The only exception to this advice would be if you have a fear of being held by your consulate and being deported back to your country. Several non-profits, including Dream Team LA are advising Dreamers to get current passports since this is the safest and most reliable way to provide identification when applying for DA.
  5. Avoid Notarios or Immigration Consultants when filing for DA. We’ve said this repeatedly, and so has every non-profit organization in Los Angeles – do not pay a Notario Publico or anyone that calls themselves an immigration consultant to file a DA application for you. They are not lawyers and they have no training in the law. Consult only a licensed lawyer in good standing with the State Bar.
  6. Don’t just pick a Lawyer that speaks your language. Now that we have hopefully convinced you to pick a lawyer, our second recommendation would be to pick a lawyer you feel that you can trust. Trust means more than just picking a lawyer who speaks your language.  Look for disciplinary violations on the California State Bar Website. If you have a “luke warm” feeling about a lawyer during a consultation, then shop around! Do several consultations until you feel comfortable with the lawyer you’ve chosen. DA is a once in a lifetime opportunity and should be taken very seriously.

Those are some of the main take away points from tonight’s amazing community forum. Check back in regularly for updates and more information on the DA process.

If you have more pressing questions about Deferred Action, please feel free to contact us on (626) 325-0770