Big Supreme Court case on immigration and deferred status

The big Supreme Court case on immigration and deferred status is scheduled to be heard on April 18. The Supreme Court’s decision here will determine if millions of immigrants are eligible for deferred status–if they’ll be able to obtain work permits and remain in the U.S. The Court will likely not actually make a decision until sometime in June.

Lower courts ruled against these immigrants. Because Justice Scalia died recently, and because he has not yet been replaced, there’s a good chance that a Supreme Court decision could be tied at 4-4, which means that there won’t really be a decision made, and the lower court’s ruling will stand.

If, however, immigrants and President Obama win here, and the Supreme Court decides that deferred status (DAPA) can move forward, immigrants who qualify will be able to get deferred status and work permits. It will most likely take a couple of months after the decision is made–sometime in the fall of this year–before the government has a system put in place to allow individuals to apply.

If this does pass, here are some things you can do to prepare:

  1. Put together evidence that you’ve been in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. Common kinds of evidence: school transcripts, bills, rental leases, receipts, medical records, etc.
  2. That you were actually in the U.S. on November 20, 2014. This is the date when the program was announced. Again, school transcripts, bills, rental leases, receipts, medical records, etc.–dated from early November to early December 2014–can be useful here. Don’t worry if you can’t find evidence with the specific date of November 20, 2014, as long as you can find plenty of dates around that time.
  3. As of November 20, 2014, you must have a child who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Most often, this means that you must have a child who is born in the U.S. Make sure you have a copy of their birth certificate.
  4. If you don’t have any children who are citizens or permanent residents, you may still be able to obtain deferred status if you can meet the other criteria, and if you were under the age of 16 when you entered the U.S. In order to do this, you’ll need to graduate from high school, obtain a GED, currently be a college student, or meet certain other criteria. If you’ll be taking this route and you don’t have a high school degree and aren’t currently a student, it may be a good idea to start working on your GED.
  5. Find your criminal record. If you have too big of a criminal record, you’re not eligible. This is a complicated area–if you do have any kind of criminal record, even misdemeanors, you’ll want to talk to an attorney before moving forward. Meanwhile, get all the records you can–police reports, court documents, etc. Even if you were a minor at the time, and even if you were not charged as an adult.
  6. Don’t screw things up. I’ve seen this happen too many times and it’s always tragic. Don’t do anything that would put you at risk of getting arrested. Even something as small as a DUI can ruin things. If you do get a DUI or some kind of other charge, don’t depend solely on a public defendant attorney to help you out. An immigration attorney can help you know what charges would be best to plead guilty to, and what charges you need to avoid.

We’ll have to wait and see what the Supreme Court gives us in June. Hopefully they’ll make the right choice and allow millions of immigrants who’ve been in the U.S. for six years or longer, and meet other criteria, the ability to obtain work permits here.