Getson & Schatz Helps College Student Receive DACA After Juvenile Conviction
Our Philadelphia immigration attorneys recently helped a college student in Pennsylvania receive Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) even though this young man had a prior juvenile conviction from when he was 14 years old.
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that USCIS would soon begin to accept applications submitted on behalf of certain childhood arrivals in the United States who were present illegally. According to the New York Times, there were nearly 2 million such childhood arrivals eligible for this deferred action, DACA, when the Department of Homeland Security introduced the measure. DACA does not regularize or provide status and does provide a direct route to citizenship, but it does offer its recipient a two-year reprieve from being placed into removal proceedings.
In order to receive DACA, an applicant must satisfy the following requirements:
- Must have been under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
- Must have come to the United States before he or she reached 16 years of age;
- Must have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2012 up to the present time;
- Must have been physically present in the United States both on June 15, 2012 and at the time of making the request for DACA;
- Must have either entered without inspection before June 15, 2012 or his or her lawful immigration status must have expired before June 15, 2012;
- Must currently be enrolled in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and must not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Our client easily satisfied the first six requirements. In 2000, our client entered the United States when he was six years old pursuant to a valid visa, which was extended but ultimately expired in 2006, when he was twelve years old. Our client continuously resided in the United States for the entirety of this time and was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, at which time he was eighteen years old. By that time, our client had graduated from high school and was a sophomore at a university in Pennsylvania. Getson & Schatz provided documentary evidence proving our client satisfied these elements.
However, our client had a juvenile conviction on his record from when he was fourteen years old. In a moment of extremely poor judgment, our client engaged in behavior that led to his juvenile conviction for “Indecent Assault – w/o Consent of Other.” Our Philadelphia immigration attorneys argued that our client received a juvenile conviction, which is not equivalent to an adult conviction and which therefore should not make our client ineligible for DACA. Additionally, our lawyers submitted evidence from the Court and out client’s probation officer showing that he complied with his probation order and had no further criminal record. Getson & Schatz also provided numerous letters evidencing our client’s high academic achievement and six personal references attesting to our client’s good moral character.
Unconvinced, USCIS issued a Notice of Intent to Deny, stating that the evidence presented did not show that our client merited a favorable exercise of discretion. Our Philadelphia immigration lawyers responded by disagreeing with USCIS’ reasoning and by providing further evidence of our client’s good moral character. Getson & Schatz worked with our client to have his juvenile conviction expunged from his record, a request the District Attorney did not oppose. Our immigration lawyers also secured a letter from our client’s psychologist as evidence that he was not a danger to the community. Getson & Schatz obtained nine more reference letters for our client, including a letter from a Pennsylvania State Senator, officials at our client’s university and high school, and from members of his church, 65 of whom also signed a petition in favor of USCIS granting him DACA. Ultimately, the evidence for which our Philadelphia immigration attorneys went to great lengths convinced USCIS that our client deserved DACA, and he recently received his approval notice.