DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is an option for immigration concerning undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. when they were younger than 16. While DACA doesn’t provide a method for obtaining legal permanent residence, it does offer the potential to get a social security number and temporary protection from work authorization and deportation.
The average DACA beneficiary is 25 years old and most are from Mexico originally, although others have come from the Caribbean, Asia, South America, and Central America. Roughly 800,000 individuals have received DACA status. If you aren’t a veteran, you must have a G.E.D or high school diploma, or current enrollment in high school. Anyone who has a serious misdemeanor conviction or felony on their record is not eligible.
While this article will provide you with general information regarding recent changes to DACA, there’s no replacement for legal advice. If you have questions about your specific situation regarding immigration, you should speak with a skilled immigration attorney.
The Benefits of DACA
President Obama introduced DACA in 2012 as a method for shielding people from deportation who had been brought to the U.S. as children. The status lasts for two years at a time and can be renewed, but keep in mind that DACA doesn’t offer a pathway to becoming a U.S. citizen. Participating in DACA offers a variety of benefits including the ability to get health insurance through their employers, pursue higher education, and drive legally after receiving a work permit.
Recipients of DACA are often called “Dreamers,” after the Dream Act was introduced in the early 2000s and would have offered a pathway to U.S. citizenship for its beneficiaries. The program provides access to state-funded loans and grants in some states, along with in-state tuition. In some areas, DACA recipients will have access to state-subsidized healthcare.
Latest Changes to the DACA Program
In June of 2019, SCOTUS (the Supreme Court of the U.S.) agreed to consider lower court decisions regarding the termination of DACA. It’s uncertain what SCOTUS will decide for the future of the program, so it’s best to consult immigration assistance and renew your application right away if your DACA expires within the next 12 months. If you’ve had DACA before or you have it now, you’re eligible to renew it.
Although it hasn’t worked yet, the Trump Administration is seeking to terminate renewals for DACA. Meanwhile, the American Dream and Promise Act was just passed by the House of Representatives. If the Senate also passes the act, it will provide a pathway to citizenship for eligible people and also protections from deportation.
Steps for Renewing DACA
You may renew your DACA status if you didn’t leave the U.S. without advance parole on or after August 15th, 2012 and have lived in the U.S. continuously since submitting your latest DACA request that was approved to cover you until the present. To qualify, you must not have been convicted of three misdemeanors (or more), a significant misdemeanor crime, or a felony. It must be determined that you don’t pose a threat to public safety or national security.
To renew DACA, follow these guidelines:
- Ensure that you’re eligible for renewal before you begin, and don’t submit an application for renewal if you don’t qualify.
- Gather the supporting documents and information you need to complete the application package and submit it to the USCIS.
- Complete your appointment for biometrics after you receive the USCIS receipt notice and biometrics appointment form by mail.
You will receive your decision notice in the mail along with your new work card, if you’re approved. You must meet the guidelines mentioned previously to renew your status. USCIS has the ultimate say in determining whether you qualify for renewal, even if you meet the guidelines given.
When is the Best Time to File Your Renewal Request?
It’s important that you file your renewal request within a certain time frame to prevent your current DACA period from expiring before you hear back. USCIS strongly suggests that applicants submit their DACA requests for renewal between 120 and 150 days before it expires. The expiration date will be listed on your current Form I-797 DACA form and EAD (Employment Authorization Document).
You may inquire about your renewal request status once it’s been pending for at least 105 days.
Factors that May Slow Down Your Renewal Request
There are a few factors that might slow down your renewal request, such as failing to appear at your scheduled biometrics appointment and issues of public safety or criminality discovered in your background check that need further investigation. Other issues that may impede the process include issues of abroad travel that require more clarification or evidence and date of birth or name discrepancies. If your renewal submission wasn’t complete, USCIS might request more information or evidence from you.
How Much does it Cost to Renew DACA?
The main cost for renewing your DACA status is the $495 fee, which may not be waived. Keep in mind that if you decide to work with an immigration attorney, there will be additional costs to consider. However, working with a legal professional will increase your odds of securing a favorable outcome.
What to Do if You have Questions
If you’ve received DACA before, you’re eligible to renew your status, even if it’s expired. You may submit an application for renewal as long as you fulfill the DACA program requirements outlined in this article. Before you complete a renewal application, double check to ensure that you still qualify for the program. USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security seem to be especially strict with renewal applications now, so it’s important to check this.
If you meet the requirements for DACA but haven’t applied before, speak with an immigration attorney to find out what the risks are for applying when there’s an opportunity to submit new applications. There may only be a short window for submitting initial applications, if this happens, so it’s imperative to seek advice from a legal expert.
Call our Immigration team at(480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.
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