Understanding DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a policy that was announced in 2012 to help children of a certain age who were illegally brought to the United States. The program is designed to help allow those who are here at no fault of their own to stay in the country. This program does not grant them legal status, but simply ‘defers’ any removal proceedings. In addition, it can make it possible for these individuals to attend school or work in the country.

A 2014 expansion of DACA has been halted by a court injunction, and as of the writing of this blog USCIS is not currently accepting applications under the expanded eligibility criteria. However, those who qualify under the original criteria from 2012—described below—may still seek first time DACA protection or a DACA renewal.

Who can Seek DACA Relief?

In order to apply for this program you must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be 30 years old or younger as of June 15, 2012
  • Must have arrived in the United States while under the age of 16
  • Must have resided in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007
  • Must have entered the US, or had lawful visa status end prior to June 15, 2012
  • Must have been physically in the US on June 15, 2012
  • Must currently be enrolled in school or have graduated from high school (or obtained a GED) OR been honorably discharged from the armed forces (including the coast guard)
  • Must not have been convicted of any felony, significant misdemeanor, or any three misdemeanors
  • Must not present any national security or public safety threat

Applying for Deferred Action

Applications for this program area all submitted to the USCIS lockbox. There are a number of forms that are required including the I-821D, I-765, I-765 WS. These forms, along with any fees (totaling $465) need to be properly submitted in order to apply. The application will be reviewed by the USCIS and you will be notified of the outcome of the decision.

Receiving Deferred Action

If you are granted deferred action it is important to note that this is not the same as attaining legal status. This program does not resolve any current unlawful situations, but it does stop any accruement of unlawful time in the US. It is essential to understand all the legal ramifications of applying for and being granted deferred action. The best way to ensure everything is handled properly and that there are no surprises is to work with an immigration attorney throughout the process.

If you believe you may be eligible for DACA relief under the original 2012 legislation, please do not hesitate to contact Sánchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A. today to learn about your options and for the legal assistance you need to ensure all aspects of your application are appropriately handled.