By Michael J. Gurfinkel, Esq.

In a previous article, I discussedsome reasons why you should consider hiring an attorney in connection with preparing and submitting your DACA request. Here are some more reasons to consider, in connection with the decision of hiring an attorney:

• Have you ever been arrested, charged with, or convicted of any crime? After all, DACA requires that the person should not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors. What does that mean? Is there any way around that requirement, if you do have a conviction? An attorney could help determine if, despite possible brushes with the law, you could nevertheless still be eligible. Or, an attorney could advise that it may be risky for you to apply.

• Similarly, I know that some people believe they have “no criminal problems,” but it is later discovered that they were convicted. At the time of their conviction, they may not have fully understood how their case was resolved. (Or they did not know the difference between the charges brought against them, and a conviction under immigration law. Or they thought an expungement “erased” the conviction. Or they may have pled guilty to a crime, without being informed of the immigration consequences.

• Did you or yourparents ever file anything with USCIS or INS? In the past, some people would go to an immigration consultant, sign blank forms, and were told that they could obtain work authorization. They then signed the blank forms, not knowing what it was they signed. But if your parents filed anything, and you were included or listed in that filing, USCIS would still have a record of that, which could affect your eligibility. An attorney could obtain and evaluate those documents, to determine if or whether your parent’s case could affect you.

• Even if you are DACA eligible, is there still a way for you to get a green card through your parents? Maybe your parents were petitioned, and you are a derivative under their petition. In order to fully evaluate a child’s eligibility for DACA or other immigration benefits, it may be necessary to evaluate the immigration history of the person’s parents as well. Maybe there’s something in your parent’s immigration history that could benefit you. USCIS has repeatedly stated that DACA does not result in a green card or a pathway to U.S. citizenship. It is merely DHS’ willingness to defer initiating removal proceedings. But maybe there’s something about your parent’s case that may benefit you. Therefore, an attorney could evaluate your parent’s situation as well.

If you believe you are eligible for DACA, you should definitely seek the advice and assistance of an attorney to make sure you are eligible, and to increase your chances of success.


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