The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, better known as DACA, began in 2012 under the direction of President Obama. It is a form of temporary relief for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and do not have any felonies or significant misdemeanors. Currently, DACA does not offer a path to citizenship. However, it does allow recipients to obtain legal employment authorization and a social security number.
PLEASE NOTE: If you do not already have DACA, do not apply! This would put you at risk for deportation because new applications are no longer being accepted.
Background Image: Clothing, India
What is DACA?
Deferred action basically means that Immigration knows you are here, but they do not intend to do anything about it. There are different types of deferred action, and DACA specifically protects people who came to the United States before they were 16 years old. Deferred action not only allows you to stay in the United States, but also allows you to apply for a work permit. In addition, this allows you to get a social security number and a Wisconsin driver’s license.
Can I Lose DACA?
Any immigrant can lose deferred action for criminal behavior or for leaving the country without permission to return. However, the DACA program itself has recently been at risk. The Supreme Court will hear the DACA case this Fall, so please pay attention to the latest updates regarding the program.
2017 Changes to DACA
To clarify any confusion, a 2017 directive by President Trump tried to end DACA. This temporarily shut it down, until several circuit court orders blocked the administration from further dismantling the program.
Currently, the DACA program is still in place, but in a more limited scope than it once was. First and foremost, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer accepts new DACA applications. Only previous DACA recipients are allowed to submit renewal applications. Also, at one time, DACA holders could request permission to leave and re-enter the country in specific cases such as family emergencies. As of September 2017, this option is no longer available.
The Future of DACA
Starting in November 2019, the Supreme Court will hear spoken arguments about the Trump administration’s attempts to eliminate the DACA program. A final decision is expected to be made in June of 2020.
While the long-term future of the program is unclear, if you are currently a DACA recipient, you can still renew your work permit and period of deferred action. In the past, USCIS would send letters reminding recipients when they need to renew. However, this is no longer the case. So you need to know when your DACA and work permit will expire and when you need to renew. USCIS recommends submitting DACA renewal requests about five months before the current period of deferred action will expire.
DO NOT APPLY
This is a Deportation Risk
As previously mentioned, but worth repeating, new DACA applications are no longer being accepted. Therefore, if you do not have DACA already, DO NOT APPLY. This would put you in great risk of deportation because you would have to submit personal information to Immigration, including your fingerprints and address.
How to Renew DACA
Renew Your DACA and Work Permit Together
One common mistake people make is renewing their work permit but not their DACA. You need to renew your DACA and your work permit at the same time. If you don’t renew your DACA along with your work permit, your work permit will be denied. Again, you should plan to renew your DACA about five months before it expires.
You must complete the DACA renewal application, Form I-821D, as well as the work permit application, Form I-765. Unlike most work permits, you must show economic necessity to apply for one under DACA. The reasons you need to work may include: paying rent or a mortgage; feeding your children; saving for you children’s higher education; and other standard needs. You will need to list your economic necessities in your application. Your immigration attorney can help if you have questions.
Report Any Changes
To renew DACA, you do not need to resend all the proofs you had submitted with your original application. If nothing has changed, you do not need to include any new evidence. However, if something significant has changed since you originally applied, you will want to tell Immigration. For example, if you have had any contact with the police or law enforcement you need to provide copies of certified court dispositions. If your marital status has changed, you need to send a copy of your marriage or divorce certificate. If your name changes for a different reason, you need to submit proof that you are allowed to do so. This will ensure that the name on your work permit is up to date.
Also, if you have a new type of compelling economic necessity, include proof of it in your work permit application. For example, if you need to pay for your child’s education, you may include a copy of your child’s tuition statement. If your need to work is based on insurance for a new medical problem, you might include evidence such as a doctor’s note.
After you submit your DACA renewal application, Immigration will send you a receipt notice in the mail. Following this, you will receive a notice to go to your biometrics appointment. Also known as your ASC appointment, this is when Immigration will take a digital photo of your face and a digital fingerprint. If you cannot make it to your appointment, you must tell Immigration in writing. Make sure that you send that letter from the post office with “return receipt requested”. This way, you can prove that Immigration received your request. Read our Biometrics Appointment blog post for more information.
Seek the Help of a Good Lawyer
We Can't Stress This Enough
These pages are intended to help you understand what you are looking for – not to help you complete any of these applications alone. Immigration law is detailed and complicated, and we urge you to rely on a well-trained lawyer for help. A lawyer can help you prepare for every step along the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
DACA Renewal FAQ
No, you cannot travel outside of the United States if you have DACA. The reason is that people who have DACA can no longer apply for Advanced Parole, which is permission to re-enter the United States after a trip to another country.
No, you must pay the fees to cover the cost of processing your work permit and biometrics appointment. As of August 2019, the fee is $495.00, but please check USCIS.gov’s fee page for the latest information.
No, deferred action is strictly temporary, and you must renew it as it expires.
No, DACA is not one of the Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that comes with automatic renewal. If your work permit expires before it is extended, you will not be allowed to work.
Please check back on our website and we will post updates as they become available.