Updated 05:48 AM EST, Fri, Nov 22, 2019

UCIS Expands Education Requirement for 'Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals' Applicants

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Many people who would qualify for deportation deferment under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) but could not meet the requirement of being in high school or having a high school diploma may be able to breathe a sigh of relief with the new interpretation of the educational requirements, according to Patrick Taurel of Immigration Impact.

"For some 400,000 individuals, the first step towards DACA will be finding and then signing up for a qualifying adult alternative education program. After that, it's back to school because DACA renewal will require a showing of substantial progress or passage of the GED," Taurel notes.

In the June 2012 memorandum from Attorney General Janet Napolitano which led to DACA, one of the stipulations for leniency was that the person in question “is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.”

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (UCIS) has interpreted the educational requirement to include a few more options than just a traditional high school or GED.

The interpretation now includes, "an education, literacy, or career training program (including vocational training) that is designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment and where you are working toward such placement; or an education program assisting students either in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under state law (including a certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or alternate award), or in passing a General Educational Development (GED) exam or other equivalent state-authorized exam," according to the UCIS Web site.

"Such education, literacy, or career training programs include, but are not limited to, programs funded, in whole or in part, by federal or state grants," says the UCIS. "Programs funded by other sources may qualify if they are administered by providers of demonstrated effectiveness, such as institutions of higher education, including community colleges, and certain community-based organizations."

Applicants are cautioned against "diploma mills" or other unaccredited programs. The UCIS will review schools not funded by the government for "the duration of the program's existence; the program's track record in assisting students in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent, in passing a GED or other state-authorized exam, or in placing students in postsecondary education, job training, or employment; and other indicators of the program's overall quality."

The UCIS also notes that "the burden is on the requestor" to prove that an educational institution they are enrolled in meets the DACA requirement.

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