On June 15, 2012, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration announced a new immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This policy allows certain people who came to this country as children to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Those that qualify are also eligible for work authorization. However, it must be noted that DACA does not provide lawful status and does not establish a pathway to residency and citizenship.

Who Qualifies for DACA?

  • Those under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Those who came to U.S. before their 16th birthday;
    • You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA, unless you are currently in removal proceedings or have a final removal or voluntary departure order.
  • Those who have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, to the present;
  • Those physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of the DACA request;
  • Those who had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:
    • You never had lawful immigration status before June 12, 2012, or
    • Any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • Those currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Those who have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
    • A minor traffic offense will not be considered a misdemeanor for purposes of DACA. Driving under the influence is a significant misdemeanor regardless of the sentence.
    • You can find detailed information in the Criminal Convictions section of the Frequently Asked Questions on USCIS.

I Qualify. Now what?

If you qualify for DACA, you should begin the process by collecting documents for evidence that you meet the qualifications. This includes proof of identity, proof that you came to the U.S. before your 16th birthday, proof of immigration status, proof of presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, proof that you have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, proof of your student status (if applicable), and proof that you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces of the U.S. (if applicable). Examples of acceptable documents include passports, birth certificates, school or military IDs, travel records, school records, bank transactions, school diplomas, Forms I-94/I-95/I-94W, and Form DD-214.

After collecting your documents, you should next complete the required forms and submit your fees. The required forms include Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-765WS, Worksheet. Once your forms are completed, you should mail them, along with the correct fee amount, to the correct USCIS Lockbox. You should include the required forms, fees, and supporting documentation with your filing. It is crucial that you carefully follow instructions and fully complete all forms. It is strongly recommended that you complete these steps with a trusted immigration attorney to ensure everything is completed correctly. USCIS will then mail you a receipt after accepting your request. You may also choose to receive an email and/or text message notifying you that your form has been accepted by completing a Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance.

The next step in the process is visiting an Application Support Center (ASC) for biometric services. USCIS will send you a notice scheduling you to visit an ASC for biometric services after it receives your complete request with fees. It is very important that you attend your ASC appointment because your request may be denied if you fail to attend your appointment.

The last step of the process is checking your request online. The 90-day period for reviewing Form I-765 filed together with Form I-821D begins if and when USCIS decides to defer action in your case. You can check the status of your case on Case Status Online or by logging into your USCIS online account.

USCIS Granted DACA and Employment Authorization in My Case

If USCIS grants DACA and employment authorization in your case, you will receive a written notice of that decision. An Employment Authorization Document will arrive separately in the mail.

USCIS Did Not Grant DACA and Employment Authorization in My Case

If USCIS decides not to grant DACA in your case, you cannot appeal the decision or file a motion to reopen or reconsider. USCIS will apply policy guidance governing the referral of cases to ICE and the issuance of notices to appear. If your case does not involve a criminal offense, fraud, or a threat to national security or public safety, USCIS will not refer your case to ICE for purposes of removal proceedings (unless there are exceptional circumstances). For more information on notices to appear, visit www.uscis.gov/NTA.

Administrative Errors

You may request a review using the Service Request Management Tool process if you met all of the DACA guidelines and you believe USCIS denied your request because of an administrative error. You can find a full list of possible errors in USCIS’s Frequently Asked Questions.

Travel

It is important to note that certain travel outside the U.S. may affect the continuous residence guideline. Traveling outside the U.S. before Aug. 15, 2012, will not interrupt continuous residence if the travel was brief, casual, and innocent. If you travel outside the U.S. on or after Aug. 15, 2012, and before USCIS decides on the request for DACA, you will not be considered for DACA. Once USCIS has approved the request for DACA, you may file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to request advance parole to travel outside of the country. For more information, see the Travel section of the Frequently Asked Questions on USCIS.