Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

(DACA) deferred action for childhood arrivals

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), is a policy that protects around 800,000 young people known as “Dreamers”, who entered the United States unlawfully as children. The program does not grant them legal permanent resident status or a pathway to citizenship, but it does allow them to apply for a driver’s license, social security number, and work permit.  President Barack Obama announced DACA on June 15, 2012. The Trump administration has repeatedly tried to eliminate DACA. 

Currently, the U.S. government is accepting new DACA applications pursuant to a United States District Court order issued on December 7, 2020.  President-Elect Joe Biden has vowed to reinstate the program during his first 100 days in office. He is likely to attempt to expand the legal protections of DACA recipients. The President-Elect has repeatedly expressed interest in creating a path to citizenship for undocumented residents and extending DACA to parents of those already enrolled in the program. 

Requirements

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an applicant can request DACA if he or she:

  • was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012,
  • came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday,
  • have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, to the present,
  • was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of filing with the USCIS,
  • had no legal status on June 15, 2012,
  • is currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have earned a General Education Development Certificate (GED), or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States,
  • has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, nor pose a threat to national security or public safety.

  • You must submit the most recent version of Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS.
  • 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.
  • Make sure you provide all the required supporting documents and evidence.
  • Submit the correct filing fees (USCIS will deny your application if you do include the correct fee). 
  • Organize and label your evidence based on the DACA criteria.
  • Make sure you submit all the pages of each form.
  • Mail the forms to the correct USCIS Lockbox address.
  • You cannot e-file your DACA petition.

President Barak Obama created the DACA program through an executive order in 2012 after more than a decade of failed negotiations in Congress on how to address the dreamer problem (under no fault of their own, these dreamer children were brought to the U.S. The DREAM Act was never passed, but it gained widespread popularity among the American electorate and, at times, in both houses of Congress.

DACA shields dreamers from deportation. The dreamers are children and young adults who were brought into the United States as children and do not have citizenship or legal residency status. The program does not currently provide a pathway to citizenship. The DACA program comes with a range of benefits. Along with permission to remain in the country, recipients can also get work permits, and can obtain health insurance from employers who offer it. The ability to work legally has also allowed DACA recipients the ability to pay for school, pursue higher education and, in some states, to obtain a standard driver’s license. In California, DACA recipients can qualify for in-state tuition and state-funded educational grants and loans in some states. They can also qualify for state-subsidized health insurance.

USCIS will continue to process all renewal applications. In compliance with an order of a United States District Court, effective December 7, 2020, DACA renewal has been restored to a period of 2 years (instead of one year).