Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: What Notaries Do Not Know!

August 2012 - ByShahzad Ahmed with NeJame Law

The trend is definitely there: Every year, numerous members in the immigrant community become victim to those who commit unlicensed practice of law. And this number increases when the government announces an amnesty program or some other form of relief. Innocent people are lured by the bait of "cheap" fees and become victims of "notaries" who mishandle their cases and destroy their chances of ever adjusting status.

In a previous article on June 2012, Keeping the DREAM Alive: A Glimmer of Hope for the Undocumented Youth, we noted the main requirements of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s new policy for childhood arrivals. Now, given the DHS' implementation of the filing procedure on August 15, 2012, we warn you against hiring unlicensed practitioners or "notaries."'

DACA is not permanent

Do not let anyone tell you that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will bring you permanent status. DACA is a discretionary decision by the DHS to defer removal action against a foreign national upon meeting certain criteria, providing a stay of removal. It does not grant lawful status upon someone and can be terminated at any time at the discretion of DHS.

Document, Document, Document

As is with most types of immigration cases, the burden is upon the applicant to prove that he or she meets the criteria for eligibility. Thus for example, in order to meet the requirement that the applicant has been continuously residing in the U.S. for at least 5 years preceding June 15, 2012, it will not be sufficient to show an entry document from 1998. This is so because, it is possible that the applicant traveled out during the requisite 5-year period subsequent to his or her entry in 1998, and thus broke the continuity of residence. Thus, in order to establish this requirement, the applicant must submit documentation, such as bills, receipts, employment records or other such evidence.

This illustrates how it is important to document your case properly in order to prevent delays in your case. An experienced immigration attorney, rather than an unlicensed notary, is much more likely to prepare your case properly.


Most members of the immigrant community, and unlicensed practitioners, are under the impression that if they meet the above criteria, then they are guaranteed the approval of their application for DACA. However, the DHS publications have made clear that the grant of DACA is discretionary. That is, even if one meets the above requirements, the government may still choose to exercise discretion unfavorably, and ultimately deny the application.

Thus, it is imperative that every applicant present the best case possible. It is the job of a professional immigration attorney to present all favorable circumstances in your life. Such equities may be what sway the decision of the immigration officer in your favor.

Avoiding Mistakes and Misrepresentations

There have been numerous cases of notaries making errors and misrepresentations in applications, causing denials of the foreign national's applications. Further, under the new policy, any applicant who knowingly makes a misrepresentation to DHS to receive deferred action or work authorization will be treated as an immigration enforcement priority to the fullest extent permitted by law.

The lesson is that your immigration matters should not be treated lightly. Instead of turning over your immigration concerns to a notary, entrust them to a professional and experienced immigration attorney.