What is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood) and who is protected by this Act?

On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security published a memorandum calling for deferred action for childhood arrivals, otherwise known as DACA.  It was implemented by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.  Though DACA provides a temporary solution to the plight of thousands of undocumented people who arrived in the United States as minors, it is not a permanent solution because as it is not yet a pathway to permanent resident status, but merely a stay of removal proceedings. 

WHAT DOES DACA DO?

Whitehouse.gov has published the following information regarding DACA:

1)  It is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion.

2) USCIS will consider DACA petitions on a case-by-case basis.

3) This process does NOT provide lawful status or a pathway to permanent residence or citizenship.

4) Individuals whose cases are deferred will not be removed from the United States for a two year period.

5) Individuals may request renewal of DACA status.

6) Individuals may also receive employment authorization.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR DACA?

According to USCIS, a person may qualify for DACA if they meet the following criteria:

1) A petitioner was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

2) Arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday;

3) Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present;

4) Were physically present in the United States on both June 15, 2012, AND at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

5) Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

6) Is currently enrolled in school, graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and

7) Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

HOW DOES ONE APPLY FOR DACA?

To apply for DACA, you must submit the following to start the application process:

1) Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

2) Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization

3) Form I-765 Worksheet

4) The filing fee for form I-765 (which is currently $380) plus an $85 biometrics (fingerprint) fee, totaling $465. *NOTE: these fees change constantly, so make sure to double check with USCIS that the fees are correct.

5) Supporting documentation (this will vary depending on your individual circumstances)

It is important to discuss your case with an immigration attorney in order to avoid costly mistakes and unforeseen consequences.  No two immigration stories are alike, so it is important to obtain legal advice tailored to your needs!  This page only serves as an overview of the DACA process.