What You Need to Know About Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Individuals who entered the United States as children have a unique course of action at their disposal when faced with removal proceedings. As long as you meet the guidelines, a request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may allow you to delay or suspend the commencement of a removal (deportation) case against you for a period of two years. If granted, it also makes you eligible for work authorization in the US. While USCIS makes it clear that deferred action does not give you lawful status, you can request to renew/extend the DACA five months before the two-year period expires.

Expanded DACA

DACA was first introduced in 2012, but the Obama administration attempted an expansion in 2014. The intention was to introduce more leeway in the guidelines, allowing more people to request deferred action and avoid deportation. While the expanded policy still exists in theory, the expansion has been stalled by litigation challenging the legality of the DACA expansion.  USCIS is not currently accepting requests for DACA under the expanded 2014 guidelines.

Current Guidelines

To determine your eligibility for DACA, immigration officials will consider your age, the timing of your entry into the US, your immigration status, and your education or military service in the US. USCIS breaks down the guidelines as follows:

  1. You were younger than 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012.
  2. You came to the US before your 16th birthday.
  3. You have lived in the US continuously between June 15, 2007 and the current date.
  4. You were physically present in the US both on June 15, 2012, and at the time you made your request for DACA.
  5. You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
  6. You are currently in school, graduated high school or obtained a certificate saying you completed high school, have your GED, or were honorably discharged from the US Coast Guard or Armed Forces.
  7. You have never been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors. You do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Proving Eligibility

Your request for DACA must be supported with the appropriate documents. These are used as evidence to prove your eligibility. You will likely be required to show a wide range of documents like your passport, birth certificate, school or military ID, bank transactions, bills, GED certificate, tax receipts, employment records, and other official records. These will be thoroughly checked to ensure that you meet every single one of the eligibility requirements. You will also have to complete two forms and a worksheet. You must then pay a fee of $465 and mail your forms to the appropriate address.

Awaiting Your Response

USCIS will notify you by mail if you have been granted DACA and employment authorization. If you are not granted Deferred Action, you will not have the option to appeal the decision. In exceptional circumstances, your case may be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for removal proceedings.

If an application is completed successfully, DACA can be an excellent tool for you to delay removal and get work authorization. Keep in mind that USCIS is not very lenient when it comes to mistakes in your application forms or supporting documents. When in doubt, it is best to consult an experienced immigration lawyer who can guide you through the complex application process. The skilled attorneys at the law office of Saleh & Associates would be happy to help you secure a favorable outcome for your DACA application. Please give us a call right away to set up a confidential consultation and discuss your options.

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Written by Saleh and Associates

Saleh and Associates

Anis N. Saleh is President and Managing Shareholder of the Miami firm of Saleh & Associates, P.A., where he practices in all areas of Immigration and Nationality Law, including extensive experience in employment-based & family-based cases, deportation & removal hearings, and federal litigation.