byÂ Alicia A. Cadwell, Associated Press
The Homeland Security Department said Tuesday that a small group of applications has been approved and those immigrants are being notified this week about the decision. The department did not say how many applications had been approved.
The first wave of approvalsÂ comes months head of DHSâ€™ own internal estimates of how long the application process for the administrationâ€™s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could take â€“ and less than 60 days before the Nov. 6 elections. According to an internal DHS document obtained by The Associated Press, the departmentâ€™s Citizenship and Immigration Services had estimated that each application could take several months to be completed.
â€œFollowing a thorough, individualized case review, USCIS has now begun notifying individuals of the determination on their deferral requests,â€ DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement. He said about 72,000 applications have been received since the programâ€™s Aug. 15 start.
DHS said background checks, including finger prints checks, 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 immigrationÂ benefits take several months for 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.
President Barack Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on June 15Â that young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before they turned 16, are 30 or younger, are high school graduates or are in college or have served in the military would be eligible to apply to avoid deportation for up to two years and get a work permit. The immigrants also could not have a serious criminal record.
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