Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Deferred Action is a USCIS policy announced through Presidential Executive Order in 2012 that allows certain immigrants without lawful immigration status who were brought to the U.S. as children the opportunity to defer removal action for 2 years and obtain employment authorization.

To obtain deferred action under DACA you must meet the following criteria:

  1. Younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Arrived to the U.S. before the age of 16;
  3. Continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 to the present;
  4. Physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and during the time the request for deferred action is requested;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012 or had lawful immigration status expired on or after June 15, 2012;
  6. Earned your high school diploma, GED, are currently in school, or are a honorably discharged military or coast guard veteran;
  7. Not convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or 3 or more other misdemeanors, and are not a threat to public safety or national security.

The first step to requesting deferred action is completing a form I-821D and form I-765 for work authorization.  However, before deciding whether to request deferred action consider the following pros and cons with an experienced immigration attorney.

Pros:

  • If approved you will obtain work authorization and may not be removed from the U.S. absent committing a felony or other serious crime during your deferred action.
  • Your information will not be forwarded to ICE unless you committed criminal offenses, are a threat to national security, or other exceptional circumstances exist.
  • You will not be considered unlawfully present in the U.S. during your time under deferred action.
  • Deferred action is generally easier to obtain than adjustments of status or cancellations of removal if you are currently subject to removal proceedings.

Cons:

  • Your application may be denied, and you may not appeal the denial except for very limited procedural reasons.
  • USCIS retains discretion to refer your case to ICE for removal proceedings if your application is denied.
  • Deferred action has a finite time-frame for approval. The administration has allowed those with deferred action to renew their applications, but there is no way to know whether this type of renewal will remain available, or whether meaningful immigration reform will occur before a change in administrative policies.
  • Deferred action does not allow a candidate to travel out of the country and return unless a separate document for travel called advance parole (on form I131) is filed and approved.
  • The application for DACA costs $465 regardless of whether the application is approved or not.
  • DACA is administrative policy, not legislation, the policy may be changed at any time. Although it is not likely to be reversed in the foreseeable future.           

Deferred Action Renewal

As of the date of writing this USCIS has issued DACA renewal application instructions. DACA registration may continue to be available. However, this is subject to change at anytime.

 


 

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