Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Application Process

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Application Process

by Brette Sember, Esq., April 2015

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a United States immigration program designed to lessen the burden on undocumented immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children. The program has not been without controversy, however.

Legal Wrangling

DACA was first implemented as an immigration law in 2012. The law was expanded in 2014 with the updates set to take effect in 2015, but the expansion has been placed on hold due to court challenges. The purpose of the law is to give people who arrived in the U.S. as children, and whose immigration status has remained as illegal, some kind of safety net from deportation.

Who Qualifies?

DACA currently applies to anyone who is under age 31, arrived in the US illegally while under age 16, is physically present while applying, entered illegally before 2007 or entered legally and the visa has expired, is in high school, or has graduated with a diploma or GED. The updated rules remove the age cap and apply to anyone who entered before 2010. The renewal period will then extend to three years from the current two years.

What Does DACA Offer?

DACA is not an amnesty program. DACA provisions are immigration laws that grant deferred action status to immigrants. This means that immigration authorities are allowed to use discretion and not report an applicant for being illegal. In essence, once you complete the immigration process required, the program basically offers some security against deportation. Applicants are eligible for employment authorization. The law provides that after the immigrant obtains DACA status he or she is not actively illegal, yet the immigrant also does not have legal status. It does not directly provide a path to permanent citizenship.

How to Apply

To request DACA status, an applicant must present documents that prove he or she meets all of the requirements (age, education, time in the US) of the law, as well as proof of identity when the DACA application is submitted. The DACA process requires filing forms I-821D, I-765 and I-765W from the USCIS site. Once you file, you will get a receipt. You will then receive an appointment notice and will need to visit an Application Support Center for biometric service.

How to Renew

To apply for DACA renewal you must have remained in the U.S. since August 15, 2012 (or left with advance parole), have continuously resided in the U.S. since you submitted your application, have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors and do not pose a threat to national security. You should apply at least 4 months before expiration using forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765W from the USCIS site. Your deferred action renewal will be processed and you do not need to submit any other documents.

The DACA program is controversial and offers protection from deportation. It does not solve the problem of immigrants who are not able to obtain legal status.

If you want to apply for DACA, LegalZoom can help by putting you in touch with an agency that offers an easy, affordable, and secure process.