What’s the Deal with DACA? Understanding the Recent Policy Changes

On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it will phase out and end a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The DACA program was designed to protect people who immigrated to the United States in their youth, giving them another option for relief against deportation.

When the program was introduced by President Obama in 2012, almost 800,000 people came out to register for DACA. If you’re among that number of people who first registered, or if you currently have a new or pending application for DACA, you may be wondering what happens next. Before you take any action, make sure you understand your rights in light of the recent changes.

Information for Current DACA Holders

If you already have an unexpired DACA grant, don’t worry: your status won’t be revoked by this change. You will continue to hold your DACA status, along with all the rights and protections it affords, until its current expiry date. You cannot be deported unless you meet certain guidelines related to criminal activity, national security, and public safety.

Status of DACA Applications

For those interested in DACA applications for various reasons, there are a few rules and dates you’ll have to keep in mind.

New Applicants: As of September 5, 2017, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will no longer accept “initial” or new applications for DACA. You cannot file a new DACA petition.

Renewals: If you intend to renew your DACA status, pay attention to these dates. In order to file a renewal application, your DACA must expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. USCIS will accept these applications until October 5, 2017.

Pending Applications: You may have already filed a renewal application, or an initial application, with USCIS. In that case, your pending application will still be processed.

All initial and renewal applications will be rejected after October 5, 2017. Make sure you file with plenty of time for USCIS to receive and accept your application by that date.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Current DACA holders will retain their Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) until they expire. That means you can keep working as long as your work permit is valid.
  • Your employer can’t force you to answer questions about DACA, and they can’t fire you or put you on leave until your work permit expires.
  • Your Social Security Number (SSN) will stay valid for life, regardless of DACA’s cancellation. Make sure you apply for an SSN while your DACA and work permit are valid. You should keep using it (for everything except employment) after your work permit expires.
  • Apply for a driver’s license or state identification card before your DACA expires. You’ll first have to make sure the guidelines in your state allow this.
  • Uninsured DACA holders and unlawful immigrants still have certain health care rights. Don’t hesitate to seek out emergency room care, a community health center, public health services, and similar services if you need medical treatment.
  • Whether or not you have DACA, you should not leave the United States. Some DACA recipients used to have advance parole, meaning they could apply to travel outside the country, but this is no longer the case for most people. Check with your attorney before you travel.
  • If you have questions about DACA, state identification, healthcare, travel, or any related topic, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney right away.

As DACA comes to an end, you may be facing a difficult point in your life. Rest assured that help will be available when you need it. If you’re not sure about your next steps, and you need a qualified professional to guide you on your path, contact Sanchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A. Our dedicated attorneys will help you craft a workable immigration plan so you can look forward to a stable future.