Dreamers Hoping for Deferred Action: Gather Your Proof of Residency


I have given six workshops so far for young people hoping to apply for the new program for DREAM Act-eligible undocumented youth that President Obama announced last month. I find that the people attending the workshops usually understand most of the requirements for eligibility, but they don’t understand what lawyers call the “continuous residence” provision. Here is how the memo from the Department of Homeland Security describes this requirement: “[The applicant must] have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012.” This means that the applicant must have been in the United States on June 15, 2007 and resided here ever since. People who arrived after that magic date are not eligible for this program.

To apply for the program, the applicant needs to gather evidence that he or she was here on or before June 15, 2007, and continued to live here afterwards. Usually I ask clients to get three or four pieces of evidence that they were here on that date. Now it is unlikely that a person will have something with that exact date on it, so something from a few weeks or months before it should be good enough. I also like my clients to gather three pieces of evidence from each year they are proving residence, so I am asking them to get me three pieces of evidence from 2007, three from 2008, three from 2009, three from 2010, three from 2011, and three from 2012.

Those attending my workshops want to know what will count as evidence. School records are very good, as are any official documents, including, oddly enough, arrest records. With school records, transcripts for several years will prove your presence here. Two of my favorite proofs are a birth certificate for your child born here or a marriage certificate. Medical records are very good proofs, as well.

Tax records, bank records, and even utility bills and collection notices are helpful. Envelopes with postmarks might be accepted as well as leases, credit card receipts, and purchase orders. Often overlooked are passports issued by consulates here in the United States.

Essentially we are looking for documents with your name and a date on them that shows you were in the United States at a specific time.

CARECEN is offering free workshops explaining the new program for Dreamers. Our next workshop is at our Brentwood office on Monday, July 23, at 5pm (2000 Brentwood Road, Brentwood, second floor, 631-273-8721). After that, we will hold a workshop at our Hempstead office on Monday, July 30, at 5pm (91 N. Franklin Street, Suite 208, Hempstead, 516-489-8330).

For more posts in this series, click here.

Feature image courtesy of Antonio Villaraigosa via Flickr.

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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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