The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program is designed to help young immigrants who came to the United States as children and make their education a priority.
If you qualify for DACA, you may be granted work authorization as well as temporary protection against the threat of deportation. It is important to know that DACA does not currently provide a pathway to citizenship and is not a form of permanent legal status. However, DACA does give you work authorization that is valid for a period of time and can be renewed for an additional time period. In Virginia, DACA also help young immigrants qualify for a social security number and driver’s license. For those who want to continue their studies, DACA-recipients qualify for in-state tuition instead of paying higher out-of-state tuition fees at Virginia colleges and universities.
You may be eligible for DACA if:
- You came to the United States before your 16th birthday;
- You have lived in the United States continuously for a number of years;
- You are
- Enrolled in school or have graduated high school; or
- Enrolled in a GED program or have received your GED; or
- Have received the equivalent of a high school diploma; or
- Have been honorably discharged from the United States military;
- You have a limited criminal history and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
- You are at least 15 years old when your DACA application is filed
Obtaining DACA is a multi-step process. That process starts with preparing and submitting a series of applications with the government. Before you may be granted work authorization, you must meet other guidelines and pass a criminal background check.
Special Immigrant Juvenile Status
The Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) program was created to protect children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents. The benefit of SIJS is to have mistreated children become eligible for a green card. The green card provides the child with security in having legal status and creates an avenue for them to apply for state and federal social welfare programs if needed.
While SIJS is intended to protect children and offer their guardians a sense of security, it is important to note that children who receive their green card based on SIJS can never submit a green card petition for their parents and can only apply for their brothers and sisters once they are 21 years old. But for children who receive their green card through the SIJS program, an avenue to citizenship is available because they will be eligible to naturalize after five years.
You may be eligible for SIJS if
- You were abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both of your parents;
- You cannot be reunited with one or both of your parents;
- You are under 18 years old;
- You have never been married; and
- You currently live in the United States.
The SIJS program is a multi-step process that traditionally starts in the juvenile court where the child resides. The child and their parent or guardian must file a case in a juvenile court and the judge must make a formal finding of mistreatment. If a formal finding is made, then a series of applications must be prepared and submitted to the government. Before you may be granted a green card, you must meet other guidelines and pass a criminal background check.
If you believe you or your children may qualify, our experienced legal team can guide you through the application process. Call today at (540) 358-5593 to reserve a free consultation.