On June 15, 2012 Department of Homeland Security announced that it would no longer deport certain immigrants who meet the criteria of DREAM Act. The new procedure is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Those who qualify can apply to USCIS for Deferred Action, which means that they are not the priority for removal from the United States. Once Deferred Action is granted, USCIS will issue work authorization, which in turn will allow an immigrant to apply for a Social Security number. It must be noted that Deferred Action status does not create a path toward a green card or citizenship. Deferred Action status will be valid for two years with a possibility of renewal.
USCIS fee for a DACA application is $495.00, which includes an application for DACA and for employment authorization.
Note: Pursuant to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision issued on 10/05/2022, no new DACA applications are processed by USCIS. Existing DACA recipients may continue to renew their DACA status.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR DACA:
1. Entry into the United States before turning 16 years old.
New procedure is designed to help those immigrants who came or were brought into the United States as small children. Therefore only those who entered the US before they were 16 qualify. New rules apply to both lawful entries and those without inspection. Those who came into the US legally will have to demonstrate that their lawful status expired prior to June 15, 2012.
2. Continuous residence since June 15, 2007.
New rules became effective on June 15, 2012 and that date is the key date. In order to qualify for DACA, we must establish that as of June 15, 2012 we were continuously residing in the US for the past 5 years, i.e. since June 15, 2007. Residence must be continuous; however, brief departures do not break this requirement. In addition, immigrants who want to apply for DACA must not leave the US after June 15, 2012 without first being granted Advance Parole.
3. Physical presence on June 15, 2012.
Only those who were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 qualify for DACA.
4. No criminal record (except for minor incidents).
Only those immigrants who were not convicted of serious criminal offenses qualify for DACA. An immigrant who was convicted of a felony or a serious misdemeanor does not qualify. In addition, those convicted of any three misdemeanors also do not qualify.
Note: conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol also prevents one from applying for DACA even if such an offense is only a violation.
5. High School diploma, military service or current enrollment in school.
To apply for DACA we must show that we have graduated from high school or have served in the US Army. High school graduates must show a high school diploma or its equivalent. New rules also apply to those who are currently in school. If you are currently not in school, it is possible to enroll and still qualify.
6. Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
DACA applies only to those who were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. In other words, to qualify for DACA on June 15, 2012 the oldest one could be was 30 years and 364 days old.
1. Minimum age: 15 (except those in proceedings)
In order to apply for DACA, one must be at least 15 years old on the date of application. This age requirement does not apply to those who are currently in removal proceedings.
2. Advance Parole
Once USCIS approves our application, the new rules allow us to apply for Advance Parole, which allows one to travel abroad.