Wednesday was the first day the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for a program that lets young illegal immigrants work in this country – legally.
The Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program allows young illegal immigrants the chance to apply for work permits and Social Security numbers. The program is also open to non-U.S. citizens who entered the country with proper documentation.
There is no deadline on the program, but applicants must be at least 15 years old and under 31 as of June 15, 2012. There are other requirements, such as no criminal record, arrival in this country before age 16, physical presence in the U.S., and residence in this country for 5 years prior to June 15, 2012. For those on visas, the period of permission to remain in the U.S. must have expired before the June 15 date.
Homeland Security officials estimate more than 1 million people will apply in the first year of the program and about 890,000 will be eligible.
Federal officials are warning that a decision on each application could take several months, and applicants will be advised not to leave the country while an application is pending.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is directing those who want to apply to the program to visit its website at www.uscis.gov or call 800-375-5283.