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5 Things to Know About DACA


There are aspects of immigration law in the United States that can be somewhat gray. One of these gray areas is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. The following is more information about this policy and its implications, which is often hotly debated in public policy.  

1. What it is

DACA is administrative relief protecting eligible immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation. DACA gives eligible undocumented immigrants deportation protection and a work permit. Under the program, the DACA status and work permit have to be renewed every two years. 

In January 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum that said his administration intends to not only preserve but strengthen DACA. 

DACA requirements include:

  • As of June 15, 2012, you were younger 31 years old
  • You came to the U.S. initially before your 16th birthday
  • You’ve been living continuously in the U.S. from June 15, 2007, to the present
  • You were physically present on June 15, 2012, in the U.S., and at the time you apply
  • You came to the U.S. without valid documentation before June 15, 2012, or your lawful status expired as of June 15, 2012. 
  • You’re currently studying, or you’ve graduated from high school or earned a GED, or you were honorably discharged from the military or from the Coast Guard. Completing technical or trade school also qualifies. 
  • You haven’t been convicted of certain misdemeanors, any felony, or three or more misdemeanors of any kind. 

The policy affects around 800,000 people. The program doesn’t give them an official pathway to citizenship but does allow for them to apply for not only a work permit but also a driver’s license and a Social Security number. 

2. New federal rule

Recently, DACA was strengthened as the federal government codified it to become regulatory law. The Department of Homeland Security registered a rule for the DACA policy. The policy was created ten years ago exactly, and it’s facing challenges in federal court, so the move was seen as a legal strategy to help protect it. 

To strengthen the legal standing, federal officials rescinded an original memory creating DACA ten years ago, replacing it with a registered federal regulation. 

DACA recipients are also referred to as Dreamers, and President Biden applauded the new rule, although it doesn’t officially take effect until late October. 

The new rule went through a long process with more than 16,000 public comments. 

Most of the original DACA requirements are still in place. 

The goal, according to proponents, is to help the program survive legal challenges that the program is going to face at the 5th Circuit and eventually challenges at the Supreme Court. 

The policy was originally intended as a temporary relief measure until Congress passed immigration reform, but lawmakers didn’t pass the Dream Act for more than a decade. 

In 2020, the Trump administration put restrictions on DACA, including the rejection of any new applications. A federal judge ruled  Chad Wolf, acting head of DHS, didn’t have the authority to make those changes to the program, and the rules were invalidated. 

3. Applying for DACA

Someone applying for DACA for the first time has to complete Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document has to be completed as well. 

They mail the forms and fees to USCIS and set up and attend a biometrics appointment. 

Supporting DACA documents include:

  • Proof of identity, like a state-issued photo ID, passport, or birth certificate. 
  • Proof that you came to the U.S. before you were 16. Proof of this might include a copy of your passport with a stamp, any INS documents with your date of entry, your Form I-94, school records, medical records, or travel records. 
  • Proof of established residence before age 16. If you left the U.S. and later returned, you’ll need to show documents like employment or school records, bank letters, tax returns, or verification of employment. 
  • Residence proof since June 2007. To show proof of residence since 2007, you might use tax or employment records, medical records, dated bank transactions, insurance policies, utility bills, or payment receipts. 
  • Documents to prove brief, casual, and innocent absences from the U.S. since 2007. You might show a plane ticket, hotel receipts, or evidence of your travel intent.
  • Proof of presence on June 15, 2012, in the U.S. You could show employment, school, medical or tax records. You could also show receipts for rent payments, birth certificates of children born in the U.S., car registration, or proof of an insurance policy.  
  • Proof you didn’t have lawful status on June 15, 2012: The best example of how to show proof of this is a Form I-94 with an expiration date and a final order of removal or deportation as of June 15, 2012. You could also show a Department of Homeland Security Document about removal proceedings. 
  • Education, graduate, GED, or military service proof
  • Proof of honorably discharged veteran status
  • Proof of removal proceedings
  • Proof of criminal history: You’ll need an official statement from the agency that arrested you, if relevant, saying no charges were filed, or if you were charged or convicted, an original or court-certified copy of the arrest record and disposition for each incident. You may need to show an original or court-certified copy of the court order that vacated, set aside, sealed, expunged, or otherwise removed the arrest or conviction. 

4. DACA renewal

The USCIS recommends recipients of DACA submit a renewal request between 120 and 150 days after their current DACA expires. To request a renewal, you have to meet certain conditions. 

You can’t have left the U.S. on or after August 15, 2012, without a valid travel document. You must have continuously lived in the U.S. before submitting your most recent approved request. You can’t have been convicted of certain crimes or be a threat to public safety or national security. 

5. Permanent residents

DACA recipients aren’t lawful permanent residents or U.S. citizens. They don’t have official legal status or a pathway to citizenship under the program, but a recipient may be eligible for a marriage green card based on certain conditions. 

DACA, Government, Citizenship, Immigration, What is DACA and how does it work? Renewal of DACA, How do I apply for DACA? Federal Government


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