Getting Ready for Executive Action: Obtaining a Certificate of Disposition

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Be sure to obtain a Certificate of Disposition for each time that you were arrested or summoned to court.
Be sure to obtain a Certificate of Disposition for each time that you were arrested or summoned to court.

This is the second installment in a series about ways undocumented immigrants can get ready for a presidential executive order that allows them to apply for work authorizations. The order has not been written, we don’t know who will be covered, and immigrants should definitely not be paying anyone for help until the announcement comes. However, there are things that they can do now to prepare. Recommended preparations are based on other, similar programs in the past.

If you want to apply for whatever work permit President Barack Obama makes available and have ever been arrested—even if the charges against you were later dropped—you’ll need to obtain a Certificate of Disposition for your case. In New York, these are relatively simple forms that you can obtain from the court that had jurisdiction over your case.

Be sure to obtain a Certificate of Disposition for each time that you were arrested or summoned to court. The certificate will indicate when you were arrested, when you went to court, whether you were convicted or not, what you were charged with and/or convicted of, and what your punishment was, if any. You can get the certificate of disposition by going to the court and paying a fee, which in New York state is $10.

If you were arrested outside of New York state you will need to consult the court where your case was heard to find out how to obtain the certificate.

Sometimes people may lie about their name when they get arrested. They think they are safe from discovery, but when they apply for an immigration benefit they are fingerprinted and that lie will come back to haunt them. That is why it is important to obtain a Certificate of Disposition before you apply for any immigration benefit.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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