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Major News for DREAMers-Those In GED Programs Eligible for Deferred Action

cross-posted from Pat Young, Esq - New York State Immigrant Action Fund

Guidance issued this afternoon by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) says that students enrolled in GED preparation courses at high schools, community colleges, or many other educational institutions will be considered “currently in school” for purposes of applying for the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. This may increase the number of young people eligible to apply for the new program by more than half-a-million people. This development gives hope for many undocumented immigrants.

Here is the guidance from USCIS:

Does “currently in school” refer to the date on which the request for consideration of deferred action is filed?
To be considered “currently in school” under the guidelines, you must be enrolled in school on the date you submit a request for consideration of deferred action under this process.

Who is considered to be “currently in school” under the guidelines?
To be considered “currently in school” under the guidelines, you must be enrolled in:

  • a public or private elementary school, junior high or middle school, high school, or secondary school;
  • 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.

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. 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.

In assessing whether such an education, literacy or career training program not funded in whole or in part by Federal or State grants is of demonstrated effectiveness, USCIS will consider 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. For individuals seeking to demonstrate that they are “currently in school” through enrollment in such a program, the burden is on the requestor to show the program’s demonstrated effectiveness.

How do I establish that I am currently in school?
Documentation sufficient for you to demonstrate that you are currently in school may include, but is not limited to:

  • evidence that you are enrolled in a public or private elementary school, junior high or middle school, high school or secondary school; or
  • evidence that you are enrolled in 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, and that the program is funded in whole or in part by Federal or State grants or is of demonstrated effectiveness; or
  • evidence that you are enrolled in 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 such State-authorized exam, and that the program is funded in whole or in part by Federal or State grants or is of demonstrated effectiveness.

Such evidence of enrollment may include: acceptance letters, school registration cards, letters from school or program, transcripts, report cards, or progress reports showing the name of the school or program, date of enrollment, and current educational or grade level, if relevant.

What documentation may be sufficient to demonstrate that I have graduated from high school?
Documentation sufficient for you to demonstrate that you have graduated from high school may include, but is not limited to, a high school diploma from a public or private high school or secondary school, or a recognized equivalent of a high school diploma under State law, including a General Education Development (GED) Certificate, certificate of completion, a certificate of attendance, or an alternate award from a public or private high school or secondary school.

What documentation may be sufficient to demonstrate that I have obtained a General Education Development (GED)?
Documentation sufficient for you to demonstrate that you have obtained a GED may include, but is not limited to, evidence that you have passed a GED exam, or other comparable State-authorized exam, and, as a result, you have received the recognized equivalent of a regular high school diploma under State law.

If I am enrolled in a literacy or career training program, can I meet the guidelines?
Yes, in certain circumstances. You may meet the guidelines if you are enrolled in an education, literacy, or career training program that is designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment and where you are working toward such placement. Such programs include, but are not limited to, programs funded by Federal or State grants, or administered by providers of demonstrated effectiveness.

If I am enrolled in an English as a Second Language (ESL) program, can I meet the guidelines?
Yes, in certain circumstances. You may meet the guidelines only if you are enrolled in an ESL program as a prerequisite for your placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment and where you are working toward such placement. You must submit direct documentary evidence that your participation in the ESL program is connected to your placement in postsecondary education, job training or employment and that the program is one of demonstrated effectiveness.

Will USCIS consider circumstantial evidence that I have met the education guidelines?
No. Circumstantial evidence will not be accepted to establish that you are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, or have obtained a general education development certificate. You must submit direct documentary evidence to satisfy that you meet the education guidelines.

If I am currently in school and USCIS defers action in my case, what will I have to demonstrate if I request that USCIS renew the deferral after two years?

If you are in school at the time of your request and your case is deferred by USCIS, in order to have your request for an extension considered, you must show at the time of the request for renewal either (1) that you have graduated from the school in which you were enrolled and, if that school was elementary school or junior high or middle school, you have made substantial, measurable progress toward graduating from high school, or, (2) you have made substantial, measurable progress toward graduating from the school in which you were enrolled.

If you are currently in an education program that assists students either in obtaining a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under State law, or in passing a GED exam or other equivalent State-authorized exam, and your case is deferred by USCIS, in order to have your request for an extension considered, you must show at the time of the request for renewal that you have obtained a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent or that you have passed a GED or other equivalent State-authorized exam.

If you are currently enrolled in 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 your case is deferred by USCIS, in order to have your request for an extension considered, you must show at the time of the request for renewal that you are enrolled in postsecondary education, that you have obtained the employment for which you were trained, or that you have made substantial, measurable progress toward completing the program.

Specific details on the renewal process will be made available at a later date.

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