A new version of the “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act,” or DREAM Act, was filed on November 30, 2010. The DREAM Act was introduced for the first time in 2001, and has undergone many changes since its inception. The essential premise of the bill is to provide a path to lawful permanent residency for individuals who entered the U.S. as minors and do not have legal status. The current version may come up for a vote on Monday, December 6 at the earliest.
The basic requirements to qualify for relief under the DREAM Act (as reflected by the current, pending version of the bill) include:
- Entry into the U.S. before the age of 16
- Continuous presence in the U.S. for five years
- Selective Service registration
- Maximum age of 30 when the bill is enacted
- Graduation from a U.S. high school or GED program or admission to an institute of higher education
- “Good moral character”
Under the current version of the bill, certain applicants may not qualify under the DREAM Act if they are deportable from the U.S. due to certain criminal offenses, human smuggling, security-related grounds, unlawful voting, marriage fraud or being a public charge. In addition, applicants who are inadmissible for the following reasons may be barred from applying under the DREAM Act:
- certain criminal convictions
- communicable diseases
- being a public charge
- engaging in human smuggling
- draft dodgers and others who are ineligible for citizenship
- student visa abusers
- illegal voters
- child abductors
All applicants applying for relief under the DREAM Act would have to successfully complete security and law enforcement background checks and undergo a medical examination. In addition, they must provide evidence that all federal taxes have been filed and paid.
If all requirements are satisfied, the applicant would acquire temporary nonimmigrant status for 10 years, followed by three years of lawful permanent residence. To apply for lawful permanent residence, the applicant would have to meet the same English language and civics requirements involved in the naturalization process. After three years in lawful permanent resident status, the applicant would be eligible to apply for naturalization.