What is DACA

In 2012, the US Department of Homeland Security created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The program is more commonly known as DACA. DACA is not a law but a regulation that provides some immigration protection and benefit to those who qualify. There has been a lot of litigation over DACA. This article was written in May of 2023 and discusses the current state of DACA at that time.

Who Qualifies for DACA

The be eligible to apply for DACA you must meet the following conditions:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 (born on June 16, 1981, or after)
  • No lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Entered the U.S. before you turned 16 years old
  • Continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • Physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and when you apply
  • Enrolled in school, graduated, obtained certificate of completion (GED), or be honorably discharged from the military
  • No criminal convictions for a felony, a serious misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors

As of October 22, 2022, USCIS is accepting and processing DACA renewal applications and work authorization requests. USCIS is accepting but not processing first time applications for DACA. The government is currently prohibited by a court order from granting new DACA applications.

What Benefits do You Get with DACA

While DACA does grant some immigration benefits, DACA is not a green card and does not grant citizenship. A DACA recipient does get a social security card and a work authorization card and can also apply for a driver’s license.  DACA also provides protection from deportation. Once approved, the deferred action under DACA lasts for two years but can be renewed.

How do You Apply for DACA

USCIS is currently accepting initial DACA applications but is not processing them. When and if the government will start processing new applications will be determined by ongoing litigation. They are still accepting and processing renewal applications. If you are eligible for DACA but have never applied, you may want to go ahead and submit your application so that it will already be in line if the government does start to process new applications again. Renewal applications should be submitted four to five months before your current DACA expires. Any renewal application submitted more than 12 months after your DACA has expired will be treated like a new initial application.

To apply for DACA you will need to complete a Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document. The total government filing fees are $580. The following types of documents will need to be submitted along with your application:

  • A photo ID
  • Proof of arrival in the U.S. before age 16
  • Proof of continuous residence since June 2007
  • Documentation about any time that you were out of the country
  • Education records or certificates or proof of military status
  • Records related to any previous immigration history
  • Records from any criminal history

For a DACA renewal application you will need to submit a Form I-821D and a Form I-765 along with a filing fee of $495. You should also provide documents for any changes in your criminal history or immigration status.

Help With Your DACA Application

If you have questions about whether you are eligible for DACA, need to file a DACA renewal application, or want to submit an initial application for DACA, give us a call. We would be happy to discuss your situation and talk to you about your options.

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