(KXAN) - President Barack Obama's new policy, a program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, takes effect Wednesday.
Obama signed the executive order in June, and it could ultimately affect well more than a million people in the country -- those people being students.
And hundreds of thousands more illegal immigrants than previously thought could earn the extra time in the U.S.
Illegal immigrants who came to America undocumented as children will have two more years before fear of deportation -- that is, if they're in school and meet some other qualifications.
Students age 30 or younger who are enrolled in school can apply to stay and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation for at least two years.
Things they must prove in order to stay
- they came to the U.S. before their 16th birthday
- lived there for the past five years
- have not been convicted of certain crimes
- do not pose a national security threat
During a rally held at the University of Texas, nearly two dozen immigrants celebrated the policy while vowing to continue fighting for permanent amnesty and the passage of the Dream Act.
"We are getting the opportunity to stay in the country we call home," said Juana Guzman, the president of the University Initiative Leadership.
Edilsa Lopez came to the United States from Guatemala when she was 10 years old has since earned three college degrees.
She said deferred action finally allows her to plan a future.
"It means I can contribute to the betterment of this nation as a business professional," said Lopez. "We can finally plan our lives without fear of deportation."
The government will begin accepting those applications for deferral Wednesday. There is a $465 application fee.
Thousands lined up outside consulates in Houston on Tuesday in hopes of staying in the country legally. They were getting IDs, which are required, so they can apply the president's new policy.
"For me this is, you know, really important because I actually have an order of deportation. And this is actually going to be lifted off, so I get to stay here in my city that I love so much and my community," said college student Rafael Lopez. "There's this perception that it's just mostly Latinos who are undocumented, but we have Asians. We have people from over the world, Africa, India, even some Europeans."
The Migration Policy Institute estimated in June that 1.4 million unauthorized immigrants could benefit from the program.
Now, institute officials said as many as 1.76 million people could be eligible -- based on new data from the Homeland Security Department.
"I want to get a job," said Lizeth Ortiz, who was waiting for a passport. "I want to be able to have kids and for them to live the dream everybody wants ... I have been here since I was a baby. This is my life. I can't even imagine having to start over in another country."
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals only serves to delay deportation for successful applicants, and it does not provide a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Michael Dell spoke to thousands of customers and partners at the third Dell World conference Thursday at the Austin Convention Center.
He's known for coloring outside the lines in the staid U.S. Senate. Now children of all ages can color-in U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
UT President Bill Powers may finally learn whether he'll continue to run one of the nation's largest campuses.
The Rev. Michael Sis, currently vicar general of the Catholic Diocese of Austin, was appointed bishop of San Angelo by Pope Francis.
Thousands of senior citizens in Central Texas go without holiday gifts. Now a donation drive needs the public's help to collect more and help wrap them.