Immigration: Best to file ASAP for DACA or DAPA | Global News

Immigration: Best to file ASAP for DACA or DAPA

09:05 AM February 03, 2015

When general amnesty was granted to millions of undocumented immigrants under the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act (IRCA) law, I was among the lawyers who did the most applications. I can verify from experience that those who filed their applications earlier had an easier time than those who filed later. I expect a similar situation for those qualified applicants for immigration relief under President Barack Obama’s November 2014 Executive Order.

Common sense practical reasons favor filing sooner than later. Why so? Here’s the situation: 1. Thousands of applicants will be filing which by necessity pushes USCIS personnel to efficiently rush the processing of initial applications. Otherwise, backlog and related problems will dog the agency for years to come. 2. When filing later than sooner, the applications filed earlier naturally has priority. 3. More scrutiny will be given to later filings as a matter of reality as the examiners will then have more time to scrutinize.


Delays in filings are a result of: 1. Concerns about the inadequacy or sufficiency of required documents. 2. Hesitations to file because of fear of the effects of a previous negative immigration history. 3. Distrust of government fueled by thoughts that this program might just be a means to ensnare undocumented immigrants. 4. Fear of one’s application being denied and then being subjected to deportation.       5. Related criminal issues. 6. The plain human tendency to procrastinate.

A competent lawyer who does immigration law can provide answers to questions related to 1 to 5 above. As to number 5, perhaps by scheduling a consultation appointment with an immigration lawyer which is easy enough, and spending a little money – one can get the ball rolling on a very important life changing matter.


But please protect yourself from being a potential fraud victim. Whenever there are new immigration laws or measures, scammers proliferate. Heed the warnings of State Bars, the USCIS and various civic organizations: Stay away from non-lawyer notaries and those who style themselves as “Immigration Consultants” who illegally provide immigration law advice and services. Many are victimized as these characters will often give wrong advice, file fraudulent papers, file applications even for those not qualified. All these can lead to serious consequences.

Protect yourselves also from lawyers who unconscionably overcharge clients. Call the State Bar in your state to check if a lawyer is certified as an expert in Immigration Law to verify if he or she is indeed a Bar certified expert. You might be surprised to know that some lawyers who present themselves as experts and charge enormous legal fees – are not certified experts. To be fair, a licensed lawyer does not have to be a Bar Certified Expert or Specialist in immigration law in order to do immigration cases.

However, the purpose of State Bars in having these Specialist expert lawyer programs – is to serve and protect the interests of the public and clients. By assuring them that if they go to a Bar certified Specialist – they are going to a lawyer who knows his stuff – they feel safe in getting competent and honest service. To be a Bar Certified Specialist, one must have passed rigorous special exams on Immigration Law, must have handled practically every kind of immigration case,   demonstrated extensive experience in this field and has no negative integrity record.

A terrible thing to happen to a client is to be charged tons of money by a lawyer who gives the impression that he is an expert in immigration law through clever media and ad campaigns – when in fact he is not. The client could have gone to a real expert and charged less. State Bar personnel will happily confirm if a lawyer is officialy certified as an Expert-Specialist or not. Call them.


President Barrack Obama’s Executive Order which he announced on November 20, 2014 – provides immigration relief to two groups of undocumented immigrants:

For the first group the previous Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is expanded – To qualify, an applicant must have: .   1) Arrrived in the U.S. before the age of sixteen. 2) Lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. 3) A High School diploma or a GED certificate or currently enrolled. 4) No serious crime conviction.

The filing fee for DACA applications will be $465. $380 is for the application for Employment Authorization an $85 is for biometrics. The USCIS will start to accept DACA applications on February 18, 2015.


For the second group – the program is known as the Deferred Action for Parents of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). To qualify, the general requirements are: 1) Be the parent of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident 2) Lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010. (It’s still unconfirmed but absence from the U.S. for less than three months may be excused.) 4. Must have been in unlawful status on November 20, 2014. 5. Must not have been convicted of a serious crime.

The filing fee for DAPA applications is also $465. $380 for the application for Employment Authorization and $85.00 for biometrics.     The USCIS will start to accept applications around May 20, 2015.

The immigration status of both groups will be known as “Deferred Status”. They will be allowed to stay and be considered as being here legally, granted a three year renewable employment authorization and under certain circumstances, be allowed to travel abroad.


Technically, the grant of Deferred Status is considered as discretionary on the part of the Department of Homeland Security but there is no reason why it should be denied if an applicant qualifies and applies in the spirit of Obama’s Executive Order.

Mainly because of political partisanship reasons, an insensitivity to commendable humanitarian reasons and on what’s good for the country, Republicans have filed a lawsuit to nullify Obama’s Executive Order. The court will most likely dismiss this lawsuit. Clearly, it is within the powers of a President to issue Executive Orders that touch on immigration enforcement and implementation of existing laws. Courts also tend to shy away from partisan politics based conflicts between the Executive and Legislative branches.

In addition, Republicans have threatened to withdraw funding from the Department of Homeland Security to stop Obama’s Executive Order from being implemented. This is also likely bound to boomerang in their faces. The American public will not support political partisan based legislation that would drastically affect the nation’s national security.

For the good of the nation and the GOP, they are better off working with the Administration in passing a rational reasonable comprehensive immigration Bill acceptable to all rather than catering to the dark anti-immigrant racist sentiments of regional constituents.

This will result in a stronger more stable kinder more inclusive America.

When general amnesty for undocumented immigrants was in effect under the 1986 IRCA law, thousands of otherwise qualified applicants failed to file before the deadline in 1988. A sad situation. They missed the opportunity to perfect their immigration status and improve their lives. One of the major reasons for their failure to file is their inability to get expert advice from honest competent affordable lawyers.

To prevent this sad thing from happening again, my law office has pioneered the accessibility of expert immigration law advice through the internet. Through this project we call EMAILGRATION, for less than a fourth of the usual consultation fees of certified expert immigration lawyers, clients can get expert immigration law advice by Email from anywhere and at anytime.

Using this communications technology, we can reach out to more people than by simply providing semi pro bono legal consultations in our law office. The much discounted fee charged will be used to sustain the EMAILGRATION program to cover salaries of lawyers and staff, office rent, announcements and other costs – and be able to help more people. For more information, just google “Ted Laguatan” and go to our website. You may also email [email protected] or call 650 991-1154.

Note: Atty. Ted Laguatan is one of only 29 lawyers continuously officially certified for almost 25 years now by the California State Bar as Immigration Law Expert-Specialists.

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TAGS: DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, US immigration, USCIS
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