Written by attorney Shah Peerally

Everything You Need to Know to Apply for Deferred Action

On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a memorandum that allows certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own to apply for deferred action on deportation orders. To qualify for deferred action, individuals will have to meet specific criteria, such as being age 15 or younger at the time of arrival in the United States, having lived in the U.S. continuously for at least 5 years prior to release of the Secretary's memorandum, having graduated from school or be a current student or have an honorable discharge from the armed services, not have committed felony crimes or certain misdemeanors, and be under the age of 30. It is important to note that deferred action does not equal citizenship or permanent resident status. It is a two-year deferral from removal action, subject to renewal. If deferment action is granted, individuals may then be given employment authorization if the need for income is proven. Even if an individual is in a final order of removal, he or she can apply for deferred action. Eligible individuals who are about to be removed by ICE should immediately contact the Law Enforcements Support Center's hotline or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate. The following procedure has been outlined by USCIS for those who believe they meet the requirements for deferred action:

Filing Process

Three forms are required by USCIS to be considered for deferred action:

Each form should be filled out completely and signed before being submitted to USCIS. Forms must be accompanied by the required fees and documentation to be considered. Read the form instructions completely.


Applications for deferred action that do not include the required fees will not be considered by USCIS. Fees for forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS total $465, which includes a $380 fee for the I-765 and an $85 biometric services fee. Fee waivers for the employment authorization applications are not available. There are fee exemptions, but they are very limited. Requests for fee exemptions must be submitted and accepted before an individual can file a request for deferred action without a fee. To be considered for fee exemption, you must submit proof to USCIS that you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You are under 18, homeless, in foster care, or under 18 and lacking parental or familial support and your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level.
  • You have a serious, chronic disability that prevents you from caring for yourself and your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level.

Evidence of the need for fee exemption includes affidavits from community-based or religious organizations to establish homelessness or lack of support; copies of tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs, or other evidence of income level; copies of medical records, insurance records, bank statements, or other evidence of unreimbursed medical expenses of at least $25,000; filled out requests for evidence (RFEs).


Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, requires documentation to prove that an individual meets the guidelines for deferred action. Below are examples of acceptable documentation:

  • Proof of Identity: Passport, birth certificate with photo identification; school or military ID with photo; any U.S. government immigration or other document bearing name and photo.
  • Proof You Came to the U.S. Before Your 16th Birthday: Passport with admission stamp; Form I-94/I-95/I94-W; school records from U.S. schools attended; any INS or DHS document stating your date of entry; travel records; hospital or medical records.
  • Proof of Immigration Status: Form I-94/I-95/I-94W with authorized stay expiration date; final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal issued as of June 15, 2012; a charging document placing you into removal proceedings.
  • Proof of Presence in U.S. on June 15, 2012 and/or Continuous Residence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007: Rent receipts or utility bills; employment records (pay stubs, W-2 forms, etc); school records; military records (Form DD-214 or NGB Form 22); official records from a religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony; copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the country, passport entries; birth certificates of children born in the U.S.; dated bank transactions; Social Security card; automobile license receipts or registration; deeds, mortgages, rental agreement contracts; tax receipts; insurance policies.
  • Proof of Current Student Status: School records from your current school in the U.S. including the name of the school, period of attendance, and current grade level; U.S. high school diploma or certificate of completion; U.S. GED certificate.
  • Proof of Honorable Military Discharge: Form DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty; NGB Form 22, National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service; military personnel records; military health records

What Happens Next

Once the forms are all filled out and signed, all documentation is gathered, and the fees are attached, everything should be submitted to the USCIS Lockbox. Once received, USCIS will review the packet for completeness, including fees and documentation. If the submission is complete, USCIS will then send out a receipt notice, followed by a notice for the biometrics services appointment at the Application Support Center. Not attending the biometrics appointment may delay processing of your request or even result in denial. Requests for consideration of deferred action are considered on a case-by-case basis. USCIS may contact you for further documentation or request that you appear at a USCIS office. USCIS will notify individuals of its determination in writing.

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