Receiving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from USCIS (an immigration government agency) means that the government will not deport you. It also allows you to get employment authorization (a work permit), a Social Security number, and permission to travel outside of the U.S. A grant of DACA is valid for two years, and can be renewed for more two-year periods. Currently, USCIS charges a filing fee of $495 for DACA.
In 2017, the Trump administration tried to rescind (cancel) DACA. Dreamers and others such as states and universities fought hard for years to challenge this. On June 19, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case called the Department of Homeland Security vs. Regents of the University of California that the administration’s manner of ending DACA was unlawful. The Supreme Court restored DACA completely. (Before that, people who already had DACA could renew it, but it had no longer been possible to file a first-time application, or to file for permission to travel abroad).
The Trump administration refused to fully implement the restoration of DACA. A federal judge in New York ordered USCIS to accept and rule on initial applications, as well as fix other issues related to how it was administering the program, on November 14, 2020.
On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the DACA program was created unlawfully. Although he ended the program for everyone, he put a hold on his ruling for renewal applications.
So this means:
Note: Given the July 16, 2021 federal court decision, any initial DACA application that you file now will NOT be approved anytime soon. It may be more than a year or more before we know what will happen to the future of DACA.
The $495.00 application fee for this kind of application may not be refunded to you in the future. Also, by submitting a DACA application to USCIS, you are providing your personal information to immigration authorities.
Initial DACA Requirements:
*A “significant” misdemeanor includes: a) any offense for which the authorized maximum term of imprisonment is one (1) year or less but greater than five (5) days and is also an offense of domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, driving under the influence, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, or drug distribution or trafficking; or
b) an offense not listed above, for which the individual was sentenced to more than 90 days in jail, as long as the sentence was actually served and not “suspended.”
IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you have ever been arrested or convicted of an offense, or if you received a summons or a ticket, you should get a copy of the Certificate of Disposition or corresponding document from the state in which the case took place. The document should state which offense(s) you were charged with, which offense(s), if any, you were convicted of including by a guilty plea; the date you were convicted, and the sentence imposed. If you have been arrested more than once, you must get a separate certificate for each arrest. You should speak with an attorney familiar with the areas of immigration and criminal law before you apply for DACA. This is true even if the charges were dismissed, or sealed, or you were a minor at the time.
Proof of Nationality:
Evidence of entry to the U.S. before age 16, continuous residence in U.S. since at least June 15, 2007 to the present, and physical presence in U.S. on June 15, 2012:
Proof of ONE of these:
Have a final Order of Removal/Deportation and DHS is about to remove you from the U.S.
You should contact a reputable immigration attorney or legal services provider immediately. You can also contact the Law Enforcement Support Center’s hotline at 1-855-448-6903 or the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline 1–888-351-4024 for more information.
Have a final Order of Removal/Deportation or You Are Currently in Removal Proceedings or Have an Order of Voluntary Departure, and You Are Not in Immigration Detention
You can apply, but your application will be on hold until there is a final decision about the legality of the DACA program. You can submit your application even if you are under the age of 15.
Are currently in Immigration Detention
DHS instructs that you should inform your deportation officer that you are eligible for Deferred Action or contact the ICE Office of the Public Advocate through the Office’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 or by email at EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.
Your Immigration Court case was Administratively Closed or Terminated under the Government’s Prosecutorial Discretion Initiative
You can apply, but your application will be on hold until there is a final decision about the legality of the DACA program.
Advance Parole is permission from the U.S. government for certain noncitizens to leave the U.S. and to return. (Traveling abroad without Advance Parole could cause you to be barred from re-entering for 3 or 10 years, if you have accrued periods of unlawful presence.) If you had originally entered the U.S. without being inspected and admitted (like by just crossing the border without permission), traveling abroad and returning on a grant of Advance Parole can open up the possibility of adjusting your status (meaning getting your green card) through certain family members.
Anyone whose DACA registration is current should be able to apply for Advance Parole, although USCIS has not yet issued guidance for new Advance Parole applications. Even if you apply for Advance Parole and are approved, it may be risky to travel abroad: if the Administration again ends DACA while you are abroad, you would likely be unable to return.
For assistance with applying for DACA and Advance Parole, or if you just have questions about these benefits, please email us at email@example.com.
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The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.
Last Updated: 8 April 2022
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