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What is Deferred Action?

Deferred action is a discretionary relief that the US government can grant to certain individuals who could otherwise face deportation. It is not a legal status; instead, it provides temporary relief from deportation and, in many cases, work authorization.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Deferred action is a discretionary and temporary form of relief from deportation and, in many cases, eligibility to apply for and receive an employment authorization document (EAD) to work in the US legally (i.e., a work permit).
  • Individuals who may be eligible for deferred action include DACA recipients,  applicants for U and T visas, family members of certain US citizens and lawful permanent residents, victims of domestic violence, and for other humanitarian purposes.

Who is Eligible For Deferred Action?

The most common beneficiaries of deferred action are for individuals who are present in the US under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization to eligible undocumented individuals who were brought to the US as children (often referred to as DREAMers).

That said, deferred action is available to a number of other groups and individuals facing extraordinary circumstances or hardships, allowing them to remain in the US temporarily, even if they do not have legal status. These can include:

  • Medical Reasons:  This is for foreign nationals currently in the US undergoing emergency or life-sustaining medical treatment.
  • U and T Visas Applicants: U visas are for victims of crimes, and T visas are for victims of trafficking. Applicants for those visas can be granted deferred action to prevent their deportation while waiting for their applications to be processed. 
  • Family Members of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)
  • Military Families: Certain family members of military service members and veterans may be eligible for deferred action.
  • Other Humanitarian Reasons: In some instances, individuals may receive deferred action for humanitarian reasons, such as when their home country is experiencing a natural disaster or military/armed conflict.
  • Victims of Domestic Violence: Individuals who have suffered substantial abuse and are willing to assist in the investigation or prosecution may be granted deferred action.

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