The Homeland Security Department is notifying a small group of people this week that they have been approved to stay in the country for two years as part of President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The first approvals come just three weeks after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started accepting applications for the program that Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano first announced June 15.
In an internal document obtained by The Associated Press, the government had estimated previously that it could take months for each application to be reviewed and approved. So far, about 72,000 people have applied to avoid deportation.
"Following a thorough, individualized case review, USCIS has now begun notifying individuals of the determination on their deferral requests," DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement Tuesday.
DHS said background checks, including fingerprinting, are being conducted on each immigrant before an application can be approved. The average wait time for approval is expected to be about four months to six months.
Most applications for immigration benefits take several months for USCIS to process. In certain circumstances, people can pay extra fees to speed up the process. There currently is no such option for deferred action applications.
See other articles on Deferred action on the Pollak Immigration blog.