Update: Currently, people may still request an initial grant of DACA or a renewal of DACA under the guidelines established in 2012. See Below: What is deferred action? Due to the US Supreme Court’s split-decision, President Obama’s proposed expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals) and new DAPA program continue to be on hold.
History: On November 20, 2014, the President announced several executive actions including an expansion of DACA as well as a similar new program called Deferred Action for Parental Accountability or “DAPA.”
The expansion of the DACA program would allow individuals of any current age who entered the United States before the age of 16 and have lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010 to apply. All other requirements of the DACA program remain the same. Once in place, the expanded DACA program would also extend the period of deferred action and work authorization from two years to three years.
The President’s DAPA program seeks to allow parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years. To be eligible for DAPA the applicant must pass the required background checks and prove that he/she has lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010. The rules with regard to which crimes, security concerns or immigration issues will make a person ineligible for DAPA are expected to be very similar to those that have been applied in the DACA program.
What is deferred action?
Deferred action is a kind of temporary relief from deportation. It is granted on a case-by-case basis. If you are granted DACA relief, you will not be deported or sent back to your country for a period of two years. It is important to note that deferred action does not grant you lawful immigration status. However, you will also not accrue any additional unlawful presence in the U.S. once your application is approved.
Who is eligible to apply for DACA?
You must be able to prove that you meet the following requirements:
That on June 15, 2012:
And that as of the date of your DACA application:
b. Have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school;
c. Have obtained a GED (general education development) certificate; or
d. Be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces.
* The 15-year-old age minimum does not apply if you are in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order, and if you are not in immigration detention. If one of these situations applies to you or a loved one, you should consult with us immediately.
How do I prove that I qualify for DACA?
Applying for DACA requires direct documentary evidence such as rental contracts, utility bills, cell phone records, school records (such as diplomas, GED certificates, transcripts) or employment records. Gathering these documents takes time. Be sure to consult with us to make sure that you have sufficient proof of your DACA qualifications.
What does “continuously” living in the U.S. mean? Must I never have left the country?
Brief, casual, and innocent absences from the U.S. do not count against your continuous residence in the U.S. An absence will be considered “brief, casual, and innocent” if it meets all of the following requirements:
If you have left the U.S. since your first entry be sure to consult with us before filing your DACA application.
What offenses qualify as a felony?
A felony is a federal, state, or local crime punishable by imprisonment for a term of one year or more.
What is a “significant misdemeanor”?
For the purposes of the DACA process, a significant misdemeanor is a misdemeanor as classified by federal law (the maximum term of imprisonment is one year or less but greater than five days) and meets the following requirements:
If you have had any contact with law enforcement, you should consult with us before filing your application.
What qualifies as a threat to national security or public safety?
This is a question subject to the discretion of USCIS. However, indicators that you pose such a threat include, but are not limited to, gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the United States.
What does “currently in school” mean?
On the date you submit your DACA application, you must be enrolled in one of the following kinds of schools or programs:
Enrollment in an ESL (English as a Second Language) program may qualify as “currently in school.”
Even if you never finished high school and are not currently attending school, you may still qualify for DACA by enrolling in a qualifying program before filing.
Can I work if I am granted deferred action?
Yes, if your application is approved, you will be issued an employment authorization card (EAD).
Can I get a driver’s license if I am granted deferred action?
In California and most other states, a grant of DACA relief qualifies as proof of lawful presence required to obtaining a driver’s license. You will also need to have a social security card, which you can obtain after being granted deferred action, and proof of your birth and identity (such as through your birth certificate).
Can I leave the U.S. if I am granted DACA relief?
You may leave the U.S. only if you apply for and receive permission (called “advanced parole”). Generally, advanced parole is granted only for humanitarian, educational, or employment reasons. If you leave the country without receiving advanced parole, you will not be permitted back into the U.S. Additionally, receiving advanced parole does not necessarily guarantee that you will be able to re-enter the U.S. Check with us before leaving the U.S.
How long do DACA benefits last? Are extensions or renewals available?
DACA relief lasts two years. You may apply for a renewal of DACA relief.
What is the timeline for the renewal process?
You may apply for renewal four months before the expiration of your current DACA card (but no earlier than five months, or 150 days, before expiration). For the first round of DACA grants that were issued in September 2012, this means that you can submit your application as of May 2014.
How can I apply for DACA renewal?
USCIS Form I-821D is used for both renewals and new applications. Consult with us to gather supporting documents for your application.
Can I be deported if I apply for DACA?
It is possible that if you apply for DACA relief, and USCIS determines that you do not meet the requirements for reasons of criminal offense, fraud, or a threat to national security of public safety, your case can be referred to ICE. Consult with us if you have ever had contact with INS, ICE, or any law enforcement agency so that we can determine the potential risks in your particular case of applying for DACA.
What is the difference between DACA and the Dream Act?
DACA is a form of relief created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It does not grant you lawful status in the U.S. Only Congress, with its authority to create laws, can create a path to permanent lawful status and citizenship. The Dream Act is a proposed law that Congress must pass before it can take effect.