In 2012, the federal government implemented DACA, a legal act, for persons who came to the United States as children and meet certain criteria. DACA provides deferred action for two years and can be renewed thereafter.
Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion in which undocumented immigrants are not removed from the U.S. or deported during the time they qualify for the deferred action. If a person qualifies for relief under DACA they may be eligible for work authorization but the relief does not provide lawful status in the U.S. So DACA is not a pathway to permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.
Recent Changes to DACA
In September 2017, the DACA act was rescinded by Congress, however, a recent injunction in January 2018 by a federal court order has allowed the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to continue to receive petitions from person renewing their DACA status.
As a result of the rescission by Congress, Persons petitioning for the first time will not be considered until further notice by a federal court or until Congress reenacts DACA.
Who is Eligible for DACA?
As a result of the changes made in 2017, the USCIS does not currently accept petitions from new applicants. Only person who have previously been approved for the deferred action may renew their petition.
Eligibility requires the following:
- The petitioner came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday.
- They have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the time they are applying for the deferred action.
- They were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 as well as the time they apply for the deferred action.
- The person had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
- The person must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- In determining whether the person poses a threat, a person convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or convicted of three or more other misdemeanors disqualifies the applicant.
- One of the following statuses must apply to the petitioner:
- Currently in school;
- Graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school;
- Have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate; and/or
- Is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
How Do I Apply for DACA?
As of January 2018, only persons seeking renewal of their deferred action status may apply. In applying, several documents may be required to prove one’s identity and presence in the U.S. After compiling these documents, follow these steps:
- Complete USCIS Form I-765, I-765 Worksheet, and I-821D.
- Submit the forms by mail, including fees (as of February 2018, a total of $465).
- Schedule and complete a biometrics appointment at your local USCIS application center.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for DACA?
Immigration laws frequently change in the United States and the DACA program is currently undergoing changes. Thus, a qualified immigration lawyer is recommended in assisting you with your DACA petition and any other immigration options that may be available to you.