Why employers must hire DREAMers rather than citizens and permanent residents?

There have been many instances in which employers have been reluctant to hire DACA approved DREAMers and the reasons are understandable.  These aliens have no permanent right to work in the United States so if you invest in training them, it might be wasted.  If the job requires overseas travel, it is a hassle to have a DREAMer employee.  However, it turns out that the best reason to replace a US citizen or permanent resident by a deferred action DAPA or DACA individual is cost savings by not having to pay insurance premiums under ObamaCare.  Under current provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) these folks are not eligible so as an employer you do not have to pay a penny for them and they are on their own to find healthcare.  According to many estimates, the savings can be thousands of dollars.

Social Security in retirement after deferred action

Since DREAMers with DACA approvals have been paying their share of Social Security contributions, there was some confusion regarding their ability to collect Social Security benefits during retirement since they do not have any legal status.  Finally this question has been clarified.  The final word on the matter is that you will be able to do so.  It also means that if your employer offers some kind of a 401(K) plan you should try to join it.  In any case, you can try to save through an IRA.  I suggest that you meet with a personal financial adviser to plan for your retirement (it is best to plan as early as possible for retirement because savings do add up over time).  The best part is that even if you decide to retire outside the United States (even many Americans relocate to Mexico during retirement for warmer weather and lower cost of living), you can collect your checks.

Change 2 year DACA work permit to 3-year

Now that DACA for all DREAMers is valid for three years (the same is the case for DAPA or Deferred Action for Parental Accountability for parents who will receive DACA like work permits and deferred deportations) instead of the traditional 2-year, a lot of you who have these employment authorization cards (EAD) are wondering what will happen.  Well, here is the skinny on this one.  If you have an application pending, then, you will receive a three-year authorization at no extra charge.  However, if you currently have a valid 2-year card that you received as part of a renewal, the USCIS will most likely mail you a new card with a three-year expiration.  There is nothing for you to do.  Thanks to President Obama, it is also going to be free.

DACA for all DREAMers

One would wonder what were all those smartypants at the Justice Department were thinking when the original DACA came with an arbitrary age limit.  I wondered what was so interesting about age of 31.  It made no sense.  One would have understood if the limit was 18 or even 21 but if 31 was good enough, what was wrong with 41 or 51.  Thankfully, the Democrats and President Obama realized that if they really want to get the Latino and immigrant vote in 2016, they have to make DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) available for all.  Here are the new eligibility requirements for DACA:

  1. No upper age limit.
  2. Been continuously in the United States since January 1, 2010.
  3. Meet other requirements like having somewhat clean background (Obama has directed the staff at USCIS to accept even fraudulent documents, ignore even serious crimes like felonies, falsely claiming to be a US citizen, lying under oath to a USCIS officer, and using fake documents like green cards and Social Security cards - as evidenced by DREAMers who have been approved)
How to apply?  If you are eligible under the new guidelines, the process will be identical to that being currently followed.  Complete USCIS form I-821D, I 765, and I765WS.  You will need to submit a small fee and go for fingerprinting.  Once you are approved and receive your documents, simply show up at the nearest Social Security Office to apply for your very own Social Security card with a real number.  If you want to exploit a loophole to adjust your status through other means, then cook up an excuse like a dying grandma (it is easy to get false papers about a sick grandma in most of Mexico, Latin America and China from doctors who will say anything for a price) and apply for advanced parole.  Enjoy your status for 3 years and reapply for renewal.

Time for DREAMers to have a baby

Obviously President Obama has expanded the DACA program by allowing even more DREAMers to legalize themselves, they are still not permanent residents and their legal status can be revoked by a new president.  To become a green card holder, this is how you exploit the loophole:
  1. You will need to get advanced parole by fabricating an excuse (apparently a dying grandma is a favorite among DREAMers and a whole industry has cropped up to provide documentation about her imaginary existence and life-threatening illness).
  2. Travel and re-entry after inspection.
  3. Marry a US citizen (apparently many DREAMers are entering fraudulent marriages as unemployed, poor, desperate Americans are seeking ways to get some money to pay their student debt) and apply for adjustment of status which you will be able to do without leaving the United States.

Now that the Democrats and President Obama have declared that priority should be given to parents of US citizen and permanent resident kids, it just makes perfect sense to have a child as soon as possible.  Many female DREAMers have told us that they simply got pregnant without even having a boyfriend -- they simply dressed up and went to a bar.  So if you are a DREAMer, it is definitely something to consider.  If you are a male DREAMer, you will need to find a woman, preferably a DREAMer (she has an incentive to get pregnant) and make her pregnant.  Having a US-born child will literally guarantee that you will never be thrown out of the United States and eventually you will be given permanent residence.  By the way, there are many welfare programs available to pay for the US-born child so there is nothing to worry if you have no or low income.

Obama expands DACA eligibility for DREAMers

If you recall, when President Barack Obama launched DACA for DREAMers the deadline was June 15, 2007.  The Democrats wanted to include only those who had spent at least five years illegally in the United States.  Well, it has been more than two years now and it is time to extend the timing to include those who came later.  The new deadline is January 1, 2010 so that if you came after that date, you would have completed at least five years.  Now, many DREAMers that we have spoken to did not have any evidence of their presence, but we are being told that they used the help of the mafia in Latin America that has agents in the United States (particularly active in California, Arizona, and Texas) who are able to produce fraudulent documents that are so high quality that they look totally genuine.  Since President Obama has instructed the USCIS officers to look the other way when they see a fake document, many DREAMers have been approved

In other words, DREAMers are doing what they can to get their deferral from deportation, work permits, and Social Security cards.  In other words, you definitely want to apply as long as Obama is president because because while the new president in 2016 will not have the courage to cancel DACA, it is likely that if a Republican is elected president, the USCIS will start following the law rather than ignore it right now because all the senior level staff will be changed.

No DACA for parents of DREAMers

Well, it wouldn't really have been DACA, which stands for deferred action for childhood arrivals, but this is the term that is widely accepted as a way for illegal immigrants to live and work legally in the United States without the fear of deportation.  After a long wait, President Barack Obama has concluded that there is no legal basis for deferred action for parents of DREAMers.  The logic is simple: the DREAMers could not be punished for the crimes committed by their parents but despite the fact that if parents are deported, the families get separated, it is a fact that these adults entered the United States of America illegally or overstayed a visa without proper authorization

So what are the options for parents of DACA approved DREAMers?  At this time if you have the financial means to do so, you must try to exploit the loophole in the US law to use advanced parole to take care of your EWI (entry without inspection) which will then clear the way for you to adjust your status without leaving the United States (I am being told by many DREAMers that a dying grandparent is the simplest excuse and there is a whole industry operated by drug mafia and gangsters in Mexico and Central America, that for a price, will create fake documents related to grandma or grandpa being seriously ill and on death bed just in case you do not have a grandparent or is not seriously ill).
You will have to figure out how to adjust your status, but I expect a lot of DREAMers to tie the knot right away with a citizen.  I would not be surprised that a lot of poor American citizens will enter into fraudulent marriages with anyone who is willing to pay several thousand Dollars to them (it is a serious crime for both the citizen and the immigrant but people do it anyway since the USCIS is incapable of policing and is under a lot of pressure from Obama and the Democrats to look the other way even if the marriage is clearly fake).  Once you get a green card, then, you can sponsor your parents to take advantage of the executive order signed by President Obama to defer deportations for parents of permanent residents or green card holders.

Forgot to mail I-765WS form

Jasmine writes, "I did not submit the I765WS form and I am worried about being rejected for the work authorization.  I am panicking.  What should I do?"

Well, if you have already received an acknowledgement of your application then you can mail a completed form mentioning the reference number so that it can be filed properly.  USCIS is not so good at filing paperwork submitted like this and it can often get lost.

Alternatively, you can just wait.  When USCIS does not receive complete documentation with an application, it will send a letter asking you to submit that.  That letter from them will also contain detailed instructions on where to send it and how.  At that time, you can do it.  That will make sure that it is included in your file.

If for some reason you are rejected, you can still reapply because you are not ineligible, you just failed to complete the paperwork properly.

DACA application and renewal process

First of all, it is important to understand that starting June 5, 2014, it does not matter if you are applying for the very first time or renewing your previously approved deferred action for childhood arrival (DACA) status, the process is exactly the same.  Everyone has to complete the same forms (those renewing will need to provide less evidence and details), pay the same fee, and go through the same process of fingerprinting and background check (and in rare cases, an interview).  While I strongly encourage you to use a qualified immigration lawyer (this is too serious an issue to be done by amateurs like you), if you are confident with your legal English language ability and have high level of confidence in completing legal forms, then you can do it yourself with the help of completed sample example forms provided on this website.  Remember that anything on this website is not legal help and you are responsible for the huge risk you are taking by using information on the Internet to complete such an important step in your life:

What forms to fill?  Basically, you will complete three forms, attach a fee of $465 and photos, and mail the packet to the USCIS at least 4 months or 120 days prior to the expiration of your approval (first time applicants can file any time).  Here are sample completed forms for your reference (each link will open in a new window for your convenience):

USCIS Form I-821D Consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals

USCIS Form I-765 Application for employment authorization

USCIS Form I-765WS worksheet

New, updated, latest USCIS Form I-821D for DACA renewal, application

Starting June 2014, all DREAMers who are applying for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for the very first time or renewing their previously approved status must file the form dated June 4, 2014, in addition to USCIS Form I-765 and Form I-765WS if employment authorization is also desired.  While it is strongly recommended that you use a qualified immigration attorney to do the paperwork for you, if you fluent in legal English, have experience completing legal forms, and are willing to take the risk, then, you can also file it yourself.  The help given on this page is obviously not legal advice and you are using it at your own risk, but follow the links below to complete the whole application section by section (each link will open in a new window for convenience).

Part 1: Information about you

Part 1: Removal proceedings information

Part 1: Other information about you

Part 1: Processing information

Part 2: Residence information

Part 2: Travel information

Part 3: Initial requests only

Part 3:  Education information

Part 3: Military service information

Part 4: Criminal, national security, and public safety information

Part 5, 6, and 7: Statement, certification, signature of requestor, interpreter, or preparer

Part 8: Additional information

USCIS Form I-821D Part 8 Additional Information

Like any other USCIS Form, this form too provides a way for applicants to provide additional information.  So I have given two hypothetical examples and it shows you how to fill this section.  You don't have to fill this section if there is nothing additional to report.

In Part 1, other names used, our hypothetical candidate not only was known Fred, but occasionally also used the name Freddie.  So the way to provide that information is that in item 3.a page number, we write down the page number on which 'other names used' topic appears.  That would be page 2.  We can also see that it is part 1 of the form so we write 1 in the corresponding box.  And since we are dealing with his given name, which is item 14b, that is what we write in Item number.  In 3d, you simply write down the additional piece of information.

Let us take yet another example of providing additional information to the USCIS.  Let us say that our example applicant also took three trips outside the US but there was space on page 3 for only two trips.  So we indicated the page number, and since we are dealing with part 2 of the form, we write 2 in box 4.b.  The departure information is item number 7 and we write that down.  In 4.d. we simply use the same format and provide the additional information.

USCIS Form I-821D Part 5

Since you are completing this application yourself, you must check box 1a.  Only an interpreter will check box 1b.

You must also sign and date in 2a and 2b as the requestor. 

In 3, 4, and 5, provide your contact information like a daytime phone number, a mobile number, and email address so that USCIS can contact you (they rarely call and you should always make sure that you are not dealing with crooks who impersonate immigration agents) but they are known to send text messages about the status of your application.

Part 6 and 7 will be completed by interpreters and preparers and DIY DREAMers can leave it blank.

uscis i-821-d requestor

USCIS Form I-821D Criminal, National Security, Public Safety Information

Ideally, the answers to all questions from 1-7 should be no.  If there is even one Yes, please do not file it yourself, and instead use an attorney.  In the example below, though, I have marked Yes for question #1 assuming that the DREAMer only had a misdemeanor and can furnish all the paperwork.  Remember that just because you have a criminal background it does not mean that you will not be approved because many DREAMers with criminal backgrounds have been approved; you just have to be prepared for the worst and provide the information in the right format.

uscis form i-821d for daca background check
ins daca criminal history

USCIS Form I-821D Military Service Information

It is important to point out that an alien illegally in the United States will be breaking US law if she or he joins the military by making a false declaration about her or his immigration status (undocumented aliens are not allowed to work for the armed forces).  Accordingly, for those DREAMers who are applying on their own for DACA, the answer to question #9 should be No.  If it is yes, please discuss your case with an attorney.  DO NOT file the paperwork yourself as this will open a can of worms.

military service information in uscis i821d by illegal immigrant dreamer applicant for daca

USCIS Form I-821D Education Information

6.  If you have already graduated, then write 'graduated from high school.'  If you still a high school student, write 'currently in school.'  If you received a GED, then write down 'received a general educational development (GED) certificate.  If you have another type of certificate from the state, write down 'received XYZ from the State of AB.'

7.  Simply mention the name of your school, city, and state.

8.  If you already graduated or received a certificate, write down the date from your diploma.  If still in school, write down the date of last attendance, which can even be today's date if you are in school.

Education information section on uscis form i-821d for childhood arrivals under dream act

USCIS Form I821D Part 3 For Initial Requests Only

This section need not be completed by DREAMers who are applying for renewal.  However, if you are applying for the very first time, you must affirm that when you first moved to the United States before your 16th birthday (merely saying Yes to question 1 is not enough; you will need to provide solid evidence of being in the US).

In 2, enter your date when you moved to the US to live here (whether legally or illegally).

In 3, enter the name of the airport if you arrived by air.  If you crossed the border illegally, write down the name of the place.

Image of part 3 initial requests only question on uscis form i821d
In question #4, pick 'no lawful status' if you crossed the border illegally.  Choose 'status expired', if you came with a valid visa and cleared immigration at an airport or land crossing but then never left so that you were out of status on 06/15/2012 (if you were in status on this date and later on your status expired, you are not eligible for DACA), and finally choose parole expired, if you had some kind of a parole status but it expired.

5a.  If you entered the United States legally, meaning that you met an immigration officer (also called as 'inspected') either at an airport or land crossing, you must have filled and then received an arrival-departure record in form of an I-94, I-94W or I-95.  If so, check Yes.  If you do not know, ask people with whom you came because it is very important to find out if you entered the US legally or illegally because it has huge consequences on your immigration journey (typically, aliens who entered the country legally but are now undocumented can adjust their status in the US while those who entered without inspection must leave the US to get a green card).

5b. If you have the card with you, enter the number here.  You can also find out the information in some cases here in case you lost your card (though not old data is there).  If not, just leave it blank.

5c.  If you have the card, it will also show the date on which you were authorized to stay in the US.  If you lost the card, then simply leave it blank.

Information about immigration status and i-94 for form i821d for daca

USCIS Form I-821D Travel Information

Ideally, you should have stayed continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007, but the Obama Administration is forgiving short absences if they were for a good cause (e.g. visiting ill family members, funerals, etc.).  You will need to provide those details in this section.

If you are a DACA approved DREAMer and applying for renewal, then you are allowed to travel using advanced parole, and this is the place to provide details of your trip.  For renewal, you only need to provide trips after being approved previously.  Also, if you have a valid DACA approval but left the US without advanced parole, you must consult an attorney before filing for renewal because you may have violated terms of your approval and could be rejected.

6, 7 (a, b, c):  In this example, the applicant is DACA approved and took three trips (the third trip must be listed in part 8) using AP.  Just enter the date of departure and arrival and a brief reason for the trip.  Our example DREAMer attended a funeral in Honduras and took two business trips, one to attend a meeting with a customer and another to participate in a conference.

8.  If your answer is no to the question about leaving the United States without an advanced parole approval, you must consult a lawyer and not file an application on your own.

9 (a, b, c):  Simply enter your passport details here.

10.  If you have had a border crossing card, enter the number in the box.

Image of travel information section of form i-821-d for daca renewal

USCIS I-821D Part 2 Residence and Travel Information

Before you go any further you will have to check the box affirming that you have been continuously residing in the US since June 15, 2007 up to the present time (this is an essential requirement for DACA approval).  You not only have to check Yes to this question, you also have to provide reliable evidence of your physical presence before 06/15/07.  If you cannot prove it with solid evidence, it is best not to apply and waste your time and money because even if you were here but do not have the evidence, your application will be rejected.

2, 3, 4, 5 (a, b, c, d, e):  Enter the date and address where you currently live.  If you have lived elsewhere, enter it below.  If you are renewing, simply enter the information after you were approved for DACA.

Image of residence and travel information section of uscis i821d form for dreamers to apply for daca renewal

DACA USCIS I-821D form processing information

15. Ethnicity:  You are either a Hispanic or not.  So just check the right box.

16.  Race.  Don't make it too complicated and pick the right one.  You can have more fun with this question when you complete your census form.  These are the categories law enforcement uses to identify criminals and suspects and this information will be used for that purpose.

17. Height: Select the right number from the pull down menu.

18.  Simply enter the weight in pounds.  If you are less than 100, enter zero in the first box.

19. Simply pick your closest eye color and this too is for identification purposes.

20.  Hair color selected should be the natural color you have.  Do not write the color you have now because you dyed your hair.

Image of USCIS Form I-821-d for dreamers with daca applications

USCIS Form I-821D Part 1 Other Information

6. Alien registration number or A-number is only available to DACA approved DREAMers or those with other pending immigration petitions (e.g. you maybe in the US illegally but might have a pending green card application and that would give you a valid A# and you should write it down in the space provided).

7. US Social Security Number:  If you received a valid SSN at any point either after DACA approval or prior (for whatever legal status you have), enter it here.  DO NOT write down your fake/fraudulent/stolen/made-up SS# (or even if someone is letting you use their valid number). 

8. Enter the DOB exactly as it appears on your passport and/or birth certificate.

9.  Gender: Check the appropriate box.

10a.  Write down the place of birth from your birth certificate.

10b. Country of birth regardless of the passport that you currently have.

11.  Current country of residence.  There is only correct answer and that is USA.  Even if you are living illegally in the United States (or DACA approved DREAMers who have no legal status, only a deferral of deportation for two years), for the purpose of this question, you must say the United States of America, because that is where your primary residence is.

12.  Country of citizenship or nationality is the one whose passport you carry.  If you have more than one nationalities, mention the one that you would like to use in the future or have valid passport.

13. Marital status: Check the correct box.

14.  Other names used:  If you had a maiden name because you are now married, you must enter it here.  If you have used nicknames, for example, our hypothetical man in this case, Fernando Miguel, tried to fit in by using names like Fred or Mike, they should also be entered, as long as they were used widely (if the name was merely used within your family, there is no reason to disclose it).

Image of other personal information on ins form i-821-d uscis for daca dreamers

USCIS Form I821D Removal Proceedings Information

If you must say yes to question 5 on Part 1 of USCIS Form I-821D for initial application or renewal request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, I strongly recommend that you complete this form with the help of a competent immigration attorney.  DO NOT attempt this yourself because it could cause a lot of complications if you make a mistake.  That is why for all of you DIY DREAMers I have only shown the answer as No.

Image of page 1 of daca application renewal form about removal deportation

USCIS Form I-821D Information About You

If this is the first time you are applying for DACA, please check the Initial Request box (1).  If you were already approved for DACA and have a valid approval on the day you are applying (ideally, you should have applied at least 120 days ahead before expiration because if you apply later, chances are that you will not receive a renewal before the expiration and during the course of that period, you will yet again be out of status and can not only be deported but you will also no longer have authorization to work legally because your valid Social Security number alone is not sufficient for employment; you must also have a valid employment authorization from DHS), check the Renewal Request box (2).  In the box below, indicate the date the DACA approval is expiring and it should be the same as indicated on your approval letter and/or EAD card.

Full legal name (3 a, b, c):  Simply write the name as it appears on your passport or other identification document that you plan to use.

US mailing address (4 a, b, c, d, e):  Simply put the address where you receive your mail and hopefully it is the same as the address at which you live, though, technically it can be different.

Image of about you information in form uscis i821d for daca applicant dreamers

When Social Security office asks if you used another SSN

A lot of DACA approved DREAMers applying for a Social Security number at the SSA offices are reporting to me that the agents in the office are asking them if they have used another SS# and how should they respond.  The reason this is happening is that since almost all undocumented immigrants use fraudulent SSN in America, it has completely messed up the databases of the Social Security Administration.  Due to widespread identity theft, more than one person is using a SSN.  I have also been told that many DACA approved DREAMers with valid SSN are still working with their previous fake number because they cannot change their number at current employment and are unable to find new work.  I am also being told that many unauthorized aliens are also using ITIN and stolen SSN at the same time.  So by asking an applicant if they have used another number, the SSA is hoping to eliminate some of that bad data.

Having said that, what should a DREAMer do if asked?  Honestly, discuss this with an attorney and ask one to accompany you to the Social Security office.  Even a low level clerk at the window is a representative of the United States Federal Government and lying is a very serious crime.  In any case, the very fact that you have used a stolen number means that you have already left a huge paper trail with your employer or when you filed your taxes or claimed a tax refund or applied for a credit card or opened a bank account or did whatever you needed to do.  However, telling the truth is a confession of a very serious crime of identity theft for which, if convicted, you can be deported and denied an immigration benefit (unless there is the so-called immigration reform in which all such crimes will be covered with a blanket amnesty). 

No, you are not an American citizen

I have received so many emails from DREAMers and other undocumented aliens asking if they have been granted US citizenship and if they should apply for American passports (some of them even tried to fill form DS-11 but realized that they did not have the documents to complete it and were wondering how to get the paperwork).  The confusion about ALL immigrants who are in the country illegally are American citizens came out of a comment by Vice President Joe Biden that “You know, 11 million people that are living in the shadows. I believe they’re already Americans citizens.” The vice president is so wrong but he was talking like a politician.  United States is a country with laws that determine who is a citizen and unless Biden becomes a dictator and can do what he want by ignoring Congress and Supreme Court, his comments are just nonsense and clearly made to get the Latino vote.  Neither the US president or the VP has any powers at all to declare anyone -- legal or illegal -- a citizen.

So why are DREAMers and all other legal and illegal aliens not US citizens?

  1. DREAMers, even with DACA approval, are not legally present in the United States.  All they get with DACA approval is a deferral of deportation by two years and a permit to work.  They are not allowed to become green card holders or citizens.
  2. American citizenship is acquired either by birth or through naturalization (a very complicated process -- and definitely not available to undocumented immigrants without going through the process of legalization and then being a permanent resident for at least 3-5 years).
  3. You can believe whatever you want in your heart (my 4-year old nephew believes he is a Martian) but merely believing that you are an American or you have lived most of your life here or have no other country that you know of or that you only speak English or have an American accent or you have gone to school here or your parents forced you to move here or this is your HOME, none of this matters and does not make you a citizen.  Becoming a citizen is a long and complicated process and unless Congress approves a law providing a path for those illegally here to eventually file for naturalization, you are still a citizen of a country where you were born.
Warning:  It is a serious crime to make a false claim to be a US citizen.  NEVER check the US citizen box on Form I-9 or any other form to claim any benefits reserved exclusively for citizens.  DO NOT register to vote and never tell anyone that you are an American, even if you believe so.

Preparation for DACA renewal

If you were one of those prompt DREAMers who filed for DACA as soon as the program was launched in fall of 2012, it is time for renewing not just the deferral on deportations but also the work permit (in case you planned on working the last time or plan to work going forward).  As is always the case with immigration petitions, renewals are simpler and faster, especially if you have stayed away from crimes.  Since the actual renewal process has not started yet (expected to start around Memorial Day, 2014), here are some important details that you need to know so that when you are four months away from the expiration of your EAD or USCIS Form I-766, you can apply to renew DACA and employment authorization card.

  1. You will need to file the same forms as last time: USCIS Form I-765, I-821D, and I765WS.  They will be updated in May 2014 and will include a renewal check box and additional questions.
  2. You will have to pay the fee again, so start saving.
  3. Unless you have committed a crime (or deportation proceedings are underway -- yes, even DACA approved DREAMers can be deported for deportable offenses), there is no need to submit any additional supporting evidence (unless there is a RFE and you are asked to submit evidence).  However, if you married in the meantime and legally changed your name, this will be your chance to update that information by providing evidence of your marriage and legal name change.
  4. Remember that your valid Social Security number is yours to keep for the rest of your life (the number will never change whether you become a citizen some day or return to your native country forever).  It is to be noted, though, that just having a genuine SSN does not mean that you can work in the United States.  Unless you become a permanent resident or citizen, you can use that SS# to work only with DHS authorization, meaning a work permitWorking without authorization is against US laws and while there are fewer consequences for unauthorized work for undocumented aliens, those of you who have chosen to provide all your biographic information along with fingerprints to the United States authorities need to be more careful working illegally.  You are more likely to be caught now and the punishment is going to be a lot more severe.
  5. While many DREAMers experienced massive delays in adjudication of their initial DACA approvals, the USCIS is promising to renew your papers in less than 120 days.  If there is a delay at their end, they will send you a temporary authorization so that you can continue to work legally and be protected from deportation.

DACA approved for deported DREAMer

As I have been reporting, the USCIS is basically rubber-stamping DACA applications (yes, there are a few denials and some applications have been stuck forever, but the approval rate is 95% plus, a record for any type of immigration benefit).  We now have record of DACA being approved after lying under oath, even using fake documents, and for having more than three misdemeanors.  That is why I wonder why not all DREAMers are applying for DACA.

Now, in a unique development, another DREAMer by the name of Jesus Ruiz Diego, who resisted deportation from 1998 all the way to 2008, but after deportation, he entered the United States illegally again.  As you maybe aware, unauthorized entry in the US by a deported alien is a felony and ICE did try to deport him again in 2012 but after a decision by an immigration judge, the USCIS has granted him deferred status.  It means that DREAMers who were deported or left voluntarily after June 15, 2012 maybe able to exploit this loophole to get DACA status provided they are able to reenter the United States illegally.

Steps to follow from fake SSN to genuine EAD

Transitioning from an ITIN to a valid Social Security number is a straightforward process (particularly if you did not use the ITIN to work illegally in the United States), but moving from a fraudulent or stolen SS# to a genuine number is a lot less smooth.  Technically, Social Security numbers are for life and never really changed, so it is not really a good excuse to present to an employer when you are approved for DACA.  This happens because there really is no process for undocumented aliens who were working without authorization using a fake number to then change their number without changing jobs (and that too is a huge challenge because their credit histories and employment histories are tied to a number that belongs to someone else).  The most complicated cases are those in which an alien assumed the identity of an American or legal resident and now has a valid number.

Looks like we now have some clarity from the Department of Justice (Civil Rights Division - Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices) on how to accomplish this without causing problems for the employer or the DREAMer.  According to this guideline, when an individual presents a valid Social Security card along with valid employment authorization card (EAD) after having used fraudulent paperwork in the past like SS card, green card, birth certificate, etc. to prove that she or he was either a US citizen or permanent resident or legally in the country allowed to work, the only responsibility of the employer is to ask the employee to complete a new I-9 form.  It would be good idea for the employer to keep the fraudulent documents along with valid documents in the employee file just in case legal trouble arises ahead.  The employer may also issue two separate W-2 forms for the year in which the change happened since some FICA payments might have already been made (and let the employee deal with the mess of filing taxes using two identities).  As long as the employer does this, they are legally protected.  Basically, the DOJ is recommending a "look the other way" policy, because the advice to employers is that they need not report the crime to law enforcement or fire the employee for lying on an employment application and committing fraud (always consult an attorney before firing for this specific act because the DREAMer could complain to the Feds and put you in trouble).  It appears that in this new process both the employer and employee are protected from prosecution.

Health insurance for DACA approved DREAMers

If you are a DACA approved DREAMer who has a job your best option is to seek health insurance through your employer.  Since despite having DACA approval, these DREAMers are still illegally in the country, they are not eligible for ObamaCare.  At this time, all states except California do not allow this group of DREAMers to take advantage of any government health insurance programs that cover low income citizens and legal residents.  The simple reasoning is that government funded programs should be reserved exclusively for US citizens and to a smaller extent to legal residents.  Thankfully, the State of California is cementing its reputation as a friendly state for undocumented aliens by extending provisions like in state tuition, right to practice law, and low cost, subsidized health insurance coverage under Medi-Cal.  Obviously, it seems that a loophole exists for you to exploit right now but always consult with an attorney if you should apply because as awesome as it might sound to get health insurance for free or cheap, it might come to bite you at a later time.

How does USCIS process criminal DREAMers?

For fastest processing of any immigration petition, the best situation to be in is one with zero criminal past.  It does not matter if you were convicted or falsely accused or happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, unfortunately, arrests and detentions are ALWAYS visible to the United States Government agencies (even if they are expunged from your public record).  In other words, if you are not a native born citizen, DO NOT break the law, ever.  Or at least, till you take the oath of a naturalized citizen.

Now, the DACA program is very lenient on DREAMers with criminal past (as many as three non-significant misdemeanors are allowed; crimes committed before you were 18 are often overlooked as long as they are not national security concerns) but as soon as you start to admit that you indeed have broken the law, the application is treated a lot differently.  Needless to add that if you have committed a felony or a significant misdemeanor, the application is rejected right away, but with non-significant misdemeanors, the process gets cumbersome and convoluted as the officer tries to find out each and every detail about the case.  The task is handed over to the Background Check Unit (BCU) for resolution/adjudication.  The officer forwards the application based on information obtained from IDENT (Automatic Biometric Identification System run by US-VISIT).  This is a massive database maintained by United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and contains fingerprints (often called the FD 258) of as many aliens as it encounters.

TECS name check:  This is a check done on any alien over the age of 14.  It is primarily a name based search of databases maintained by dozens of government agencies.  An officer with just a few clicks can find names of suspected terrorists, gang members, criminals, individuals with warrants issued against them, sex offenders, and people who maybe considered as risks to public safety or national security.  If your name pops up, you will be processed by BCU causing delays and complications depending on what crime you have committed.  In addition, your name will be added to what is known as the Interagency Border Inspection Services (IBIS) Manifest.  A copy of this information (also called ROIQ or record of IBIS query) is also added to your so-called Alien or A file.  In other words, this information will be ALWAYS available to the USCIS for all your future applications.

CIS 9101 and CIS 9202 checks:  This is another system check that the agent will do.  The CIS is the Central Index System in National Systems.  In other words, it is a depository of the A# that is assigned to an immigrant and is used as an identifier throughout the immigration process.  The idea behind the CIS searches is to find an A file for you making sure that one person does not have more than one file, and if there are, they should be reconciled and merged.  This makes sure that immigrants cannot use another name or identity to access immigration benefits.  So CIS9101 is a search of this database by entering a passport number, SSN or A# and do an ID search.  CIS9202 is conducted if an alias is found.

CLAIMS other filings/biometrics:  This is the so-called computer linked application information management system (CLAIMS) using which the officer wants to make absolutely sure that there are no additional applications, and if there are, he is aware of them (e.g. you can have a petition filed based on marriage to a citizen) and every single piece of information is one place.

RAP sheets:  This is a record of arrest and prosecution (RAP) so if you were ever arrested and prosecuted, this information is available to the agent and is used in deciding your case.  A copy is also added to your A file for future reference.  This information along with court documents related to the cases maybe reviewed and depending on her judgment, you maybe declared as a public safety or national security risk.  This will not only trigger a denial of the application but the information will be shared with other agencies for proper action like arrest and deportation.

CARRP protocol:  This is the so-called Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program run by the FBI under which aliens who maybe Muslims or come from countries typically associated with terrorists, for example, Pakistan, Somalia, or Yemen, are screened more carefully.  It does not mean that your application will be denied -- as is the case with thousands of Muslims being approved for DACA  -- but delays are more likely.

How does USCIS treat homeschooled DREAMers?

US citizens and legal aliens can typically homeschool their children without any questions, but most sane people are very skeptical of the rapidly exploding homeschooling movement.  It is widely known that many parents who assume the role of teachers aren't really educated themselves and rarely educated in the skills needed to teach children.  They often teach their children nonsense and fail to teach them the basics to survive in the real world.  In fact, many parents are committing outright fraud on taxpayers by demanding vouchers that they can blow on vacations and parties. 

It is no surprise then that the USCIS is very skeptical of homeschooling of DREAMers.  First of all, it is very likely that parents who failed to enroll their children in the American school system are using homeschooling as a coverup; it definitely does not help that illegal immigrants have a reputation for fraud and lies.  Secondly, it is likely that the alien might have secured vouchers and that would be a crime as well.  And finally, the USCIS wants to make sure that the DREAMer has basic education equivalent to other residents in the country.  So what the agency does is that as soon as a DREAMer claims in her or his DACA application that s/he has been homeschooled, the information is passed on to the Center Fraud Detection Office (CFDO) to start an investigation.  Only if the CFDO is convinced that there was no fraud and the DREAMer is genuinely being taught at home by capable parents, the application moves forward.  This means that many DACA applications will be delayed due to the lengthy fraud investigation.

Foreign visa for DACA approved DREAMers with advanced parole

Visiting your native country with advanced parole is a pretty routine affair and dozens of DACA approved DREAMers have been able to leave and reenter the United States without any problem.  However, many of you are being asked to take business trips to other countries (some of you are also taking personal trips to foreign countries because your family is there) and some of them require you to first obtain a visa.  So the question I get asked a lot is if you can get a visa to another country using just your AP documents.

Visas to other countries in the USA are typically issued only to legal residents:  It is important to understand that most countries insist that you apply for a visa from your native country unless you can prove that you live legally in the United States.  Some countries are slightly more liberal in the sense that if you entered the United States legally and still have valid legal status, they may accept and approve your application, but denials are quite common as well.  For instance, visas to Canada and Mexico are easier if you are already in the US because it can be construed that you decided to travel to these countries only after your arrival to the US as a visitor (a more difficult case to make if you want to apply for a visa to Australia).

AP document is Unfortunately, despite the fact that DACA approved DREAMers are still illegally in the United States, having an advanced parole document is enough evidence that you will be able to enter the country legally.  Accordingly, most countries will recognize an advanced parole document as proof of being legally in the US and will honor it for visa purposes even if it is not explicitly listed on their website (the reason being that the number of aliens without legal status in the US who are allowed to travel on an AP is extremely small and includes people with asylum cases or special cases like DACA -- people who are going through an adjustments of status or AOS have legal status even though they may no longer have a valid visa in their passports).  So if you wish, you can contact the embassy to clarify (most embassies rarely respond to phone calls or emails, though) but go ahead and apply anyway (make sure you attach evidence of your ties to the US in form of a letter from your employer, paystubs, bank account statements, etc.), unless the website clearly states that aliens with AP are ineligible.  And finally, remember that a visa is a privilege and not a right.  Even if you think you are eligible and have submitted all documents, a country can deny a visa without assigning any reason, and in case you did not know this, your visa application fee will not be refunded.

Can DACA approved DREAMers go on cruises?

As you know, I am strongly opposed to DACA approved DREAMers leaving the United States, even with advanced parole documents.  Yes, I understand that you may have to travel abroad using AP for business meetings or for humanitarian reasons or in some cases to exploit the loophole to let you adjust your status by wiping out your record of entry without inspection (EWI).  Other than that, I cannot think of any other good reason to risk your future by leaving the US border.  Despite this, I keep getting questions about what loopholes can the DREAMers exploit to study overseas (I mean, seriously, the whole world aspires to study in America, and you want to go elsewhere?) or party somewhere or attend weddings.

Passport may not be needed but proof of citizenship is:  One of these frequent questions is about cruises to the Caribbean Islands, like The Bahamas.  The thing is that some of the advertisements for these cruises tend to add "no passport needed" phrase to attract those US citizens who do not have passports (which were not needed for travel to most neighboring countries until recently but are now needed for almost all travel) but these are very limited number of cruises that follow limitations on where they start and end (closed loop).  Also, while American citizens may not need a passport, they need proof of their citizenship, like a birth or naturalization certificate.  In other words, the statement is misleading.

Overseas trips are risky for everyone, including US citizens:  Another important point to note is that any travel (particularly overseas travel) is sometimes full of surprises.  So let us say that you go on one of these cruises and the ship breaks down.  The cruise line will most likely put you on a flight back home (rather than a ship, but even if it does that, the ship maybe going to another port and from there the cruise line will arrange additional transport to bring you by land or air to the point of origin but now it is no longer a closed loop cruise and a passport is mandatory to disembark at the port of entry) and in that case you will need a valid passport with visa to the United States to enter the country (and this is also a cautionary message to US citizens that while they might be able to complete a closed loop trip without a hitch in most cases, in case of emergency, they will need a passport -- of course, you can approach the local US embassy to get a travel document but it might take days to get one and if you are sick and want to get back home right away, it's not very helpful to be traveling to the consulate while you are already very sick). 

The net result is that everyone will be better off leaving the US only with a valid document to be able to reenter the country, DREAMers simply cannot afford to leave the US to a foreign destination without proper paperwork.  By the way, cruises to destinations like Puerto Rico, Alaska, US Virgin Islands, and Hawaii are all US land and you can freely visit them without a passport or visa to the US, unless the journey is through another country that may insist on a transit visa (for example, some flights to Alaska go via Canada and Canadians will typically not grant visas to those aliens who are in the United States illegally). 

Options for DREAMers to practice law in the United States

Even DREAMers with DACA are not automatically able to practice as an attorney because to do so they must be accepted to the bar.  Since DACA approved DREAMers are still not legally in the United States (DACA merely defers deportation for two years but does not grant any legal status in the country), they are typically not admitted to the bar.  The State of California now allows all unauthorized immigrants to be accepted to the bar as long as they are otherwise admissible.  It means that only DACA approved lawyers will actually be able to work legally in California.  It appears, though, that once they are admitted to the bar, alien attorneys without legal status in California, will be able to accept under the table payments or steal someone else's identity to work or simply buy a fraudulent SSN.  The situation in other states is still evolving but at this time, undocumented aliens are not allowed to enter the bar.