Government warns of change in immigration policy

When the U.S. government announced last week that it would halt "low priority" deportations, it gave flight to the hopes of thousands of undocumented immigrants - and to unscrupulous people who want to take advantage of those people and swindle them out of their money and their dreams.

The Obama Administration's new immigration policy IS NOT an amnesty, DOES NOT GRANT legal status, and IS NOT a program to enroll in.

Do not trust people who tell you that they can get you a work permit (EAD) or legal status based on the government's recent announcement. Anyone offering you these options is misleading you and could severely damage your situation.

You should know that:

  • There is NO sure way to turn yourself in to immigration authorities.
  • There is NO guarantee that your case will be considered a "low priority" case.
  • NOT all cases categorized as "low priority" will automatically receive work permits.
  • ANYONE who comes into contact with immigration authorities can be jailed, detained, and even deported.
  • You should NOT turn to notaries or immigration consultants for legal advice.
  • DO NOT take action because a friend, neighbor or co-worker recommends it.
  • Only an immigration lawyer or a federally accredited representative can evaluate your case and advise you accordingly.

What does the new policy mean?

The Obama Administration announced the creation of a task force comprised of officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to implement the new measure. The group will review all cases currently pending before the immigration courts. Cases categorized as "low priority" could be administratively closed. Those categorized as "high priority" will be processed more quickly.

At this time, there are no rules or guarantees as to which cases will be considered low or high priority. Although some guidelines have been listed, no one can tell you whether your case is a low priority - only the immigration authorities can make that determination.

In other words, the August 18 announcement was preliminary and nothing has yet been implemented. So far, no details have been released on how the review process will work. Nor has it been determined how a case can be submitted for evaluation, nor how it will be established whether it is a "low priority."

Just because a case is a low priority does not mean that it will receive a work permit.

The government said that if a case is administratively closed, the individual could be eligible to apply a work permit. At this time, there are no details or instructions on how to apply for an EAD, or who will be eligible to receive a work permit.

Unless you are already eligible to obtain an EAD under current regulations, you should not go to the immigration authorities to request an EAD or file an application for one. You could risk losing hundreds of dollars in filing fees. Consult an attorney for advice.

What are the "low priority" cases?

It is likely that the factors that determine the categorization of a case as one of "low priority" will be based on a memorandum The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) document dated June 17, 2011, which indicates how deportation cases should be processed.

However, even if your case appears to fall under one of these categories, it does not mean that it will automatically be considered a "low priority." Those who will review cases will take into account the "totality of circumstances." It is unclear what factors will be considered.

Since there are approximately 300,000 deportation cases pending in the courts, it is unknown when a particular case will be reviewed.

What is an administrative closure?

Administrative closure only applies to cases that are already before an immigration judge. Closing a case administratively means that the case is no longer active, and that no action will be taken, including future court hearings, unless the government or the undocumented immigrant makes a request to return the case to active status. A person whose case is administratively closed is still in removal proceedings. Administrative closure does not equate to legal status. It is simply a temporary stay of a case in immigration court.

For more information on how to avoid immigration scams, please visit