Young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and hope to avoid deportation will have to pay $465, submit fingerprints and undergo a background check, according to details of the program released Friday by the Department of Homeland Security.
The fees will fund the process of applying for work permits and relief from deportation under a program announced by the administration in June, said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas in a telephone conference with reporters last Friday.
President Barack Obama has described those who qualify for the program as "Americans ... in every single way but one: on paper." Critics have denounced the policy change as an end run around Congress that rewards illegal immigrants.
Up to 1.4 million people could benefit from the change, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research group. Applications will be accepted and forms will be available on USCIS' website starting Aug. 15, as explained in an online brochure.
Addressing the fears of some who worry that coming forward could result in deportation, officials said information in applications would not be shared with immigration enforcement agents in most cases. But it could be turned over if someone is a convicted criminal, is considered a national security or public safety threat, or commits fraud in the application process.
Those "who knowingly make a misrepresentation or knowingly fail to disclose facts will be treated as an immigration enforcement priority to the fullest extent permitted by law," Mayorkas said.
Officials also said that "brief, casual, and innocent" absences from the United States would not be counted against residency requirements.
To qualify for deferred action, a person must:
Have been born after June 15, 1981
Have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16
Have resided continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
Have been in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
Be in school, graduated from high school or received a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran
Be at least 15 years old to apply if not currently in removal proceedings
In addition, applicants must not have been convicted of a "felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety."
Driving without a license will not be considered a significant misdemeanor but could factor into the application's overall consideration, an official said.