Without making the policy change public, USCIS, and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, has quietly rejected all requests for deferred action, except those made by certain military members and veterans, NBC News reports. In addition, deferred action for immigrants who arrived as children, known as "Dreamers" under the DACA program, is protected because of ongoing litigation.
The deffered action program is reserved for immigrants who have "compelling circumstances," such as a medical condition. Approved applicant do not get the legal right to work, but the status can prevent them from being deported while they await a green card.
WBUR-FM, Boston's National Public Radio station, was first to report that USCIS has denied medical deferred action requests, reserved for immigrants with health conditions whose lives would be endangered if they were deported.
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USCIS told NBC News the policy of denying deferred action now applies not only to medical cases but more generally to all deferred action requests outside of the military and DACA. Instead, applicants must apply to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"USCIS field offices will no longer consider nonmilitary requests for deferred action, to instead focus agency resources on faithfully administering our nation’s lawful immigration system," an agency spokesperson said in a statement.