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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

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What is “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a new immigration policy that allows certain undocumented aliens who were brought into the U.S. illegally to defer (delay) removal or deportation.  Under the new DACA rules, certain qualified immigrants can delay removal for up to two years, although they aren’t granted legal status. 

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals doesn’t provide a pathway for citizenship or permanent residence.  However, persons who are granted relief under DACA do become eligible for employment authorization.  DACA requests are processed through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Who is Eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

Not all persons are eligible for the two-year protection under the DACA.  To be eligible, the following requirements must be met:

  • You entered the U.S. prior to reaching your 16th birthday
  • You have lived in the U.S. continuously since at least June 15, 2007, up until the present date
  • You were not older than age 31 on June 15, 2012
  • Your lawful immigration status was expired before June 15, 2012, or you entered unlawfully before June 15, 2012
  • You have not been convicted of a criminal felony, outstanding or significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors, and do not pose a “risk or threat” to society
  • You are currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school (or have obtained a completion certificate), have obtained general education certification, or you have been honorably discharged as a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard
  • You were present within the U.S. on June 15, 2012, as well as at the time of submitting your request for deferred action

The granting of deferred action is considered to be a discretionary determination.  This means that it’s largely up to the immigration judge or panel to determine the eligibility of each applicant on a case-by-case basis. 

Thus, it’s also up to the applicant to supply evidence for proof in support of their claims.  This can include submitting documents such as birth certificates and prior immigration documents. 

How can a person Apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

To apply for DACA, the applicant must take the following steps:

  • Compile all documents to be used for evidence
  • Fill out USCIS Form I-765, I-765 Worksheet, and I-821D
  • Submit the forms by mail, including fees (total of $465)
  • Schedule and complete a biometrics appointment at your local USCIS application center

As you can see, the application process generally requires the assistance of a lawyer, especially when with regards to the evidence documents.  An attorney can help instruct you as to which documents will be useful or necessary for your application.

Do I need a Lawyer for assistance with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

The services of an experienced immigration lawyer are indispensible when it comes to any type of immigration application.  Your lawyer can assist you in the filing to make sure that you are meeting all the eligibility requirements.  Also, in some cases a DACA filing may also require you to appear before an immigration judge or panel.  In such cases, your lawyer can provide you with representation during the proceedings.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 09-07-2012 04:33 PM PDT

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