Be Prepared for Administrative Reform

There several steps you can take to get ready for administrative reform.

1. Gather Important Documents

  • Obtain your identity documents, such as original birth certificate, passport, consular identification, or any other identity document issued by your country of origin.
  • Obtain the original versions of all other official documents that might be necessary, such as your children’s birth certificates and/or adoption records, your marriage license or divorce certificate, criminal records, etc.
  • If you have any arrest or conviction history, you will need to obtain certified dispositions about each instance from the police department or court involved. If you have ever been arrested, including by immigration authorities, you may want to have your fingerprints taken so that you can review your record and identify any potential stumbling blocks to your legalization and how you may be able to avoid them.
  • If you have had interaction with immigration authorities, you should obtain a copy of your file from your attorney or file a Freedom of Information Act request with the appropriate agency. You should seek legal advice if you have had any interactions with law enforcement (including immigration).
  • Begin collecting documents of your physical presence in the U.S. These include leases/mortgages, bank records, medical records, pay stubs or direct deposit slips, school records, etc. You will likely have to show your presence in the country prior to a date set out in the legislation (for S. 744 that date is December 31, 2011), on the day of the filing of your application for legalization, and from the day the application is filed until it is approved.

2. Pay Taxes and Plan your Finances

  • File and pay taxes for all years you are required to do so, and make sure they accurately reflect your income and dependents. Even if your income falls below the filing threshold for a given year, it may make sense for you to file anyway. Otherwise, keep documentation about your lack of income for those years.
  • The application costs associated with any reform efforts will likely be significant. The comprehensive immigration reform bill which passed the Senate in June 2013, S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, required not only payment of the actual filing fee, but of a fine, and any assessed federal taxes that you have not paid in the past. For that reason, it is important to plan your finances accordingly.

3. Stay Informed and Seek Legal Advice

  • The debate around immigration reform often moves in confusing spurts. It is important to stay informed about administrative reform through several different and reputable news sources. If you’re reading this, it means you have already found one of those sources! Check often to make sure you have the most up to date information about administrative reform. In addition, you can and should contact your local community based organization.
  • In the meantime and to avoid potential pitfalls in your application, seek legal advice about your case from an attorney or an organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Remember that people who are not attorneys or BIA accredited representatives are not entitled to give legal advice. If you have doubts about a person’s credentials, you can check whether an attorney is not authorized to practice on your state’s Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) website. You can find a roster of BIA recognized organizations and accredited individuals on the website of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). You can find legal aid service providers for your area here.

Some information adapted from the National Immigration Justice Center. You can visit them on

Where can I get information?  

If you have any questions about administrative relief, call Chicago Irish Immigrant Support on  773 282 8445 or visit the Irish nonprofit organizations in your area.  For more information please visit

Does the unaccompanied youth crisis derail administrative relief?

They are one in the same.  The crisis at the border shines the spotlight on our broken immigration system and why we need President Obama to set up administrative relief by the end of the summer, as he promised.

How has the immigration dialogue changed with the children’s crisis?

They are one in the same conversation.  We can’t talk about the children’s crisis without the need for administrative relief.

Are youth coming to the United States because they think they will get DACA?

The children are coming here because they are fleeing violent conditions. Many are coming to be reunited with their parents that are already here.

What should be done about the children at the border?

Every child deserves due process and have their full rights protected. Additionally, we need to also address the humanitarian crisis here. We need administrative relief now for the 11 million, who fear of being taken from their family.