Your Questions Answered by Our Chicago Attorneys
Do you think you may qualify for DACA benefits? Are you looking for help with a DACA renewal? Whatever the case may be, Borjas Law Group, LLC. has answers to commonly asked questions about DACA. Read our FAQ below to learn more about the program as well as the application and renewal processes.
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as DACA, is a federal program under the Department of Homeland Security that allows certain undocumented individuals who came to the U.S. as minors to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal.
The main goal of DACA is to give those who qualify the possibility of receiving three main immigration benefits:
- Protection from removal (deportation)
- Employment authorization for a period of two years
- Under certain circumstances, the possibility of receiving advanced parole to allow applicants to travel abroad
If my DACA application is approved, will it provide me with a path to legal permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship?
No. DACA does not grant lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.
What are the requirements for DACA?
You may request consideration of DACA if you meet the following requirements:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:
- You never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more other non-significant misdemeanors
- Do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
How do I request consideration of DACA?
To request consideration of DACA (either as an initial request or to request a renewal), you must submit Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to USCIS along with Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-765WS, Worksheet, to establish economic need for employment. If you fail to submit a completed Form I-765 (along with the accompanying filing fees for that form, totaling $465), USCIS will not consider your request for deferred action.
What happens after I submit my DACA applications?
If USCIS determines that your request is complete, it will mail you a receipt notice. USCIS will then send you an appointment notice to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) for biometrics. USCIS may then request additional information or evidence from you, or request that you appear at a USCIS office for an interview. USCIS will then notify you of its determination in writing. If your applications are approved, you will receive an approval notice and an employment authorization card.
Can You Travel Outside of the U.S. With DACA?
Not automatically. If USCIS approves your DACA application and you want to travel outside the United States, you must apply for advance parole by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and paying the applicable fee ($360). USCIS will determine whether your purpose for international travel is justifiable based on the circumstances you describe in your request. Generally, USCIS will only grant advance parole in the following circumstances:
- Humanitarian purposes, including travel to obtain medical treatment, attending funeral services for a family member, or visiting an ailing relative;
- Educational purposes, such as semester-abroad programs and academic research, OR;
- Employment purposes such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences or, training, or meetings with clients overseas.
Travel for vacation is not a valid basis for advance parole.
What offenses constitute a significant misdemeanor?
For the purposes of DACA, a significant misdemeanor is a misdemeanor that is an offense of:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual abuse or exploitation
- Unlawful possession or use of a firearm
- Drug distribution or trafficking
- Driving under the influence
Alternatively, it could be an offense for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days. The sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and therefore does not include a suspended sentence.
According to USCIS, notwithstanding the above, the decision to defer action in a certain case is individualized and takes into account the totality of the circumstances. Therefore, the absence or presence of a criminal history does not necessarily determine a decision – it is simply a considered factor. DHS retains the discretion to determine that an individual does not warrant deferred action on the basis of a single criminal offense.
What offenses qualify as a felony?
A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term of more than one year.
Will the information I share in my application for DACA be used for immigration enforcement purposes?
Information provided in this request is protected from disclosure to ICE and CBP for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless the requestor meets the criteria for the issuance of a Notice To Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’ Notice to Appear guidance. Individuals whose cases are deferred pursuant to DACA will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including for assistance in the consideration of DACA, to identify or prevent fraudulent claims, for national security purposes, or for the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
The above information-sharing policy covers family members and guardians in addition to the requestor. This policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.
If USCIS does not exercise deferred action in my case, will I be placed in removal proceedings?
If you have submitted a request for consideration of DACA and USCIS decides not to defer action in your case, USCIS will apply its policy guidance governing the referral of cases to ICE and the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA). If your case does not involve a criminal offense, fraud, or a threat to national security or public safety, your case will not be referred to ICE for purposes of removal proceedings except where DHS determines there are exceptional circumstances. For more detailed information on the applicable NTA policy, visit www.uscis.gov/NTA. If after a review of the totality of circumstances USCIS determines to defer action in your case, USCIS will likewise exercise its discretion and will not issue you an NTA.
Can I renew my period of deferred action and employment authorization under DACA?
Yes. You may request consideration for a renewal of your DACA. Your request for a renewal will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If USCIS renews its exercise of discretion under DACA for your case, you will receive deferred action for another two years, and if you demonstrate an economic necessity for employment, you may receive employment authorization throughout that period.
If I am no longer in school, can I still request to renew my DACA?
Yes. Neither Form I-821D nor the instructions ask renewal requestors for information about continued school enrollment or graduation.