WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT THE DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS (DACA)

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a program provided by the federal government designed to offer temporary relief from deportation or removal for qualifying undocumented individuals who entered the country as minors.  According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), about 690,000 eligible undocumented people have DACA.

For those young undocumented immigrants who are eligible, DACA provides (i) a two-year protection from deportation or removal, and (ii) two-years of employment authorization (work permit).  However, it is important to understand that the benefits provided by DACA will not grant holders a visa status. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals also does not offer permanent benefits.  Rather, receipt of the program’s benefits is subject to renewal after two-years.

The following information can help you determine if you qualify to receive benefits of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Here, we will also discuss recent program changes and how these changes can affect your petition.

UNDERSTANDING ELIGIBILITY FOR DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS

You may request consideration for a deferred action, under the following conditions:

  • Were under 31 years as of 06-15-2012;
  • First came to the country prior to your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously lived in the country from 06-15-2007, and until the present time;
  • Were physically in the country on June in 2012, and at the time of submitting the application;
  • Entered the country without documents and/or inspection prior to June 15, 2012, or the immigration status ended as of 06-15-2012;
  • Currently attending or graduated high school, or earned a certificate for general education development, or GED, or are a veteran of the Armed Forces or US Coast Guard upon an honorable discharge;
  • Have no past felony convictions, a serious misdemeanor, and/or three (3) or more misdemeanors of any nature; and
  • Otherwise do not pose a threat to the security of the country.

HOW DO I BENEFIT FROM DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS (DACA)?

As previously mentioned, DACA can offer discretionary relief that will delay actions to remove an undocumented immigrant from the country. While DACA will not provide recipients a legal status in the country, it can provide an array of benefits.

If you are granted deferred action, you will be able to legally work in the United States, obtain a Social Security number, and possibly a state’s driver’s license and ID.  You can also apply for advance parole, which will allow you to travel abroad for reasons related to your work or to humanitarian purposes.  While DACA may not be a long-term solution, the program offers significant benefits that are certainly worth exploring.

When exploring DACA benefits, it is important to understand what DACA does not offer. DACA does not allow for the following:

  • It is not a green card and it also does not provide a pathway toward obtaining a green card.
  • It does not entail U.S. citizenship and it also does not provide a pathway to obtaining citizenship.
  • It does not involve a naturalization process.
  • While DACA does not provide easy access to travel abroad, it can offer the opportunity to obtain travel documents for humanitarian reasons or work-related reasons.

RECENT CHANGES TO THE DACA PROGRAM

Recently, the Trump Administration has declared the end of the DACA program as of early 2019. While Congress finds a permanent solution, two judges have ordered the administration to cease the termination procedures and resume application renewals once again. Unfortunately, first-time applicants are not permitted to petition for DACA benefits at this time.

Currently, the recent changes to the DACA program affects the overall amount of applicants for DACA and it also affects those seeking a renewal. For many, a DACA renewal means sharing identifying information that could potentially be used against them.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT A DACA RENEWAL

According to public data released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, by the end of 2019, approximately 98,000 DACA recipient benefits are set to expire. If you are seeking to renew your DACA status, you should know that it is recommended that you begin the application process at least six (6) months prior to your DACA expiration date. You may be eligible to request a renewal if you meet the 2012 initial DACA guidelines. You will also need to meet the following:

  • Did not leave the U.S. on or after August 15th, 2012, without obtaining advance parole;
  • Have continuously resided in the country since submitting the most recent, and approved, DACA petition; and
  • Have not been convicted of a significant misdemeanor, felony, or have had three or more misdemeanors, and are not a threat to public safety or national security.

RENEWING YOUR DACA

The process for a DACA renewal should take an average of 120 days. In order to renew DACA, current recipients must complete or provide the following:

  • A recent copy of Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Form I-821D;,
  • The Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765);
  • Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, passport, school I.D., or military I.D.;
  • Documentation demonstrating entry to the U.S. occurred before the age of 16;
  • Proof of immigration status;
  • Proof of student status, such as a transcript, school I.D., or a proof of an honorable discharge from the military; and
  • A cover letter that can help the recipient understand the order and reason for the documents. The cover letter can also include the date of application submission, return address, addendums, and applicant’s signature.

If you are renewing your application for a second of subsequent time, you should consider using your previous renewal application as a guide. This can help you ensure that the information you are providing is consistent with information you have previously submitted. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will allow photocopies of certain documents but it should be noted that it will require original copies of others.

When submitting the required documents, it is critical to submit the right fees associated with the documents. In a majority of cases, you can send your payment using a money order. Additionally, it is also important to submit any supplementary documents that may affect your current status. For instance, if you have recently been convicted of a misdemeanor, you may need to submit related court documents.

Even while the USCIS can have your information provided from previous applications, The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reserves the right to request additional documents as well as request personal information from education institutions, government agencies, employers, or other parties.

COMMON REASONS FOR A DENIED OR REJECTED RENEWAL APPLICATION

You should know that USCIS can reject your petition for a renewal for reasons such as submitting outdated forms or stapling your submitted documents. Other reasons for a denied DACA petition are:

  • Forcible or violent behaviors towards others,
  • Gang affiliations, and/or
  • Forced or coerced sexual contact

When submitting documents, it is important to submit them to the corresponding office. If you are seeking to renew your DACA benefits, you should consider obtaining the legal support of a qualified immigration attorney.

WHEN RENEWING DACA, SEEK THE LEGAL REPRESENTATION YOU DESERVE

Because of the uncertainty in DACA’s future, it is conceivable that applicants will encounter several challenges in the renewal process. If you or someone you know is seeking more information about DACA renewals or information with respect to first-time applications, consider seeking the legal counsel of an experienced immigration attorney.

At the King Immigration Law Group, our experienced attorneys can guide you through the process of a DACA renewal. When petitioning for a renewal, it is important to thoroughly read and understand the requirements. Failing to follow the instructions can delay the application process or result in a denied application.

Our office understands the current difficulties surrounding DACA applications and renewals. We are readily available to answer any questions that you may have regarding applying for or renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Moreover, if your application has been denied for any reason, we can help you through the appeals process.

DACA applications and renewals are a sensitive matter that demand legal experience and skill. Call to schedule a free consultation and discuss your eligibility to apply for and/or renew DACA.  You can view our contact information here.