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President Barack Obama announced an exciting immigration reform action on November 20, 2014. He is taking executive action to protect certain undocumented parents from deportation. Starting in 2015, millions of parents of U.S. citizens and parents of lawful permanent residents will be able to stay in the country without fear of being deported. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not currently accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, but they will soon. Now is the perfect time to learn about your legal rights and to prepare to apply.

The first step is determining if you are eligible for DAPA. In order to be eligible for DAPA, you must:

  • Have a child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

  • Have lived continuously in the U.S. since Jan. 1 2010.
  • Were in the United States on November 20, 2014. You should also remain in the U.S. until you apply for DAPA.
  • Must have a clean criminal record. Some misdemeanors will not disqualify you, but all felonies will make you ineligible unless our office helps you get them dismissed.
  • Not have a legal immigration status. You must have either entered the county illegally or you your lawful immigration status must have expired.

If you meet these requirements, you will be able to apply. It is important that you use caution and not let yourself be taken advantage of during the application process. You cannot apply for DAPA yet and the government will not accept applications for DAPA until May 20, 2015. Therefore, if you are talking to an immigration specialist who claims they can apply for you now, it may be a fraud.

When it is time to apply, the fee for USCIS is $465. That rate includes a $380 fee for the employment authorization application and another $85 fee for fingerprints. There may be waivers available for certain immigrants, but those will be limited.

Another important part of the application process is proving that you qualify. You will need legal documents showing your relationship to the permanent resident or citizen. You must also show that you lived here since January 2010. You can do this by providing copies of bills, lease agreements, school records and even medical records. An experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney from our office can help you assemble your proof and evidence and ensure you have enough to qualify.