Will I be able to obtain permanent residency through deferred action?

Questions continue to be raised about the deferred action program that the federal government recently granted to hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth. In my column from La Opinión This week I continue to answer some of the questions I have received from readers. Here I answer your questions in a general way. Each case is different, so you should consult an attorney for personalized legal advice.

When does the deferred action program go into effect? - Jaime P.

During a presentation before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced last week that the procedures for applying for the deferred action program will be released on August 1 and applications for authorization to stay and employment authorization will begin to be accepted for individuals who are not currently detained or in deportation proceedings as of August 15.

Until then, do not send any application because it will be rejected.

For those who are already in deportation proceedings and meet the proper requirements, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is already granting deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

Napolitano also announced that ICE has already granted deferred action to approximately 1,000 individuals.

If a person is about to be removed from the country and believes he or she is eligible for deferred action, he or she should immediately contact the DHS Law Enforcement Support Center at 1-855-448-6903.

The office is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

In addition, you can call the ICE Office of the Public Advocate for assistance at 1-888-351-4024. They are open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. You can also email them at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.

Will I be able to obtain permanent residency through deferred action? - Lidia L.

Deferred action is not permanent residency nor does it lead to citizenship. Only the U.S. Congress can grant these rights.

I had problems with the law in the past, will I be investigated by the federal government when I apply for deferred action? - Victor C.

All applicants will be required to provide fingerprints for a criminal background check. If you have a criminal record, consult with an immigration attorney before beginning the process.