Dream Act – What it Means and How To Apply

Just few days after the Dream act became public and president Obama made it clear it will help thousands of undocumented aliens who entered this country before they were 16 years of age and who at the time of his announcement were 30 years of age or younger, the telephone at my office did not stop ringing. Questions as to when and how to apply and what does it means serious misdemeanor or pose a serious risk to the society were the common denominator of each caller to my office.


The BCIS.org website has posted information as to the legal name of the action to be invoked, the benefits of obtaining this type of benefit, and the basic requirements as to eligibility, however, it is not yet clear what would be the correct interpretation of serious misdemeanors or threat or risk to society. Criminal behavor has been a serious issue during this administration and has prevented thousand of aliens from obtaining prosecutorial discretion. Criminal behavior such as driving under the influence, driving without a license or with a suspended licence, any violation involving the use of controlled substances are serious crimes that will be considered a barrier to this type of remedy.

It has been discussed the possibility of considered juvenile convictions that normally are not considered, to prevent applicants from getting this type of benefit and if not in removal proceedings bring their cases to the attention of the authorities resulting in the service of a notice to appear to start a removal proceedings against the alien.

At this time the program has not been implemented and it is expected to take up to 60 days from the date president Obama announced the Dream Act. At this moment, the importance of gathering all the necessary evidence to support a prima facie eligibility to apply for the benefit is essential.

Young people wishing to apply for this remedy shall gather evidence of entry before the age of 16 and of continuous residence in the United states for the past 5 years prior to the announcement of the executive order. In addition, must be able to prove that they were present in the United States the day the executive order was issued. Evidence of attendance to high school, military involvement or other type of education must be obtained as well, and the most important a criminal background check must be performed with the Department of Justice to determine if there is any history of criminal record at the local and national levels.

The process of evaluating whether a conviction will bar the alien to apply for the benefit is a very important process and shall not be disregarded or taken easily. A lawyer with experience in removal or deportation defense is the best choice to assess the merits of the case and the legal ramifications of filing for this type of remedy if past history of criminal behavior is present.

Be careful of consulting notarios or legal preparers who claim to be lawyers and who charge a fee for their services, they can cause serious damage to your immigration rights. for a lawyer in your area call the State Bar of your State and look for a list of certified active lawyers.

The program is not yet in place and you should not submit any application until the program is open to the public for purposes of filing applications and start the adjudication process. This program can last for many years or can be gone in months, it is an executive order and therefore lacks the same force and stability that a permanent order made by Congress.

Eliana Phelps

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