Hello. You ask very good questions here.
1. Regarding when to apply. Per USCIS' website, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) alerts eligible individuals NOT to submit a deferred action request under the Deferred Action Process for Young People memorandum issued by Secretary Napolitano on June 15. If you submit now, your application will be rejected. The Secretary’s directive gives USCIS 60 days to create a process to accept these requests and we are unable to accept requests at this time. Please continue to check our website for updates.
2. Regarding your question about needing a lawyer. Given that this is a new policy, I encourage you to contact a local attorney before you file for deferred action.
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There is no deadline ... yet, we don't have any rules yet.
We do know that you can't file before August 15, 2012.
Yes, a lawyer can help you start preparing NOW ... you need several documents that take time to arrange.
FORMER IMMIGRATION LAW PROFESSOR -- LEGAL DISCLAIMER: This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
There is no deadline. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications from those not currently in removal proceedings (facing deportation) by around August 15, 2012. It would be worth it to at least have an initial consultation with an attorney who can evaluate your case, then you can decide from there whether you wish to proceed on your own or hire an attorney.
ImmigrationHelpAttorney.com (714) 871-4529 (714) U.S. 1 - 4 LAW The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo are only general answers, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they are not comprehensive and may or may not apply to the question.
There is no deadline that we know of yet to apply for Deferred Action. I would highly encourage you to go through a credible lawyer because there is NO appeals process once a case is denied under Deferred Action. USCIS has indicated only that there will be some supervisory review to ensure that officers are reviewing cases correctly, but there is no appeals process.
The money you spend on a lawyer to file a case correctly will be worth it because of the benefits - renewable work permit, driver's license and social security card (the right to get a driver's license will vary from state to state, but you can get a driver's license in California with a work permit as ID).
Lastly, if you still decide not to go through an attorney, do not to pay anyone who is not an attorney (ex: notario) to file this application for you. Only a licensed lawyer knows the laws and can give you legal advice that is accurate.
For more information, visit my wesbite: www.dreamlawca.com
Wishing you the best!