Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Deferred action is a discretionary, limited immigration benefit conferred by the Department of Homeland Security to the qualifying applicants irrespective of whether they are in removal proceedings, they have final orders of removal, or they have never been in removal proceedings. Individuals granted deferred action status are eligible to apply for employment authorization. However, the status is revocable and does not provide a direct path to lawful permanent residence or to citizenship.
[dropcap color=”” boxed=”no” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]1[/dropcap]Eligibility for DACA relief:
As per the USCIS guidelines, individuals who meet the following criteria can apply for deferred action for childhood arrivals:
- are under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
- came to the U.S. while under the age of 16;
- have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present. (For purposes of calculating this five year period, brief and innocent absences from the United States for humanitarian reasons will not be included);
- entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012;
- were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;
- have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind; and
- do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- Applicants will have to provide documentary evidence of the above criteria. In addition, every applicant must complete and pass a biographic and biometric background check.
In accordance to the above given instructions, significant misdemeanor for the purpose of DACA includes involving any of the following, regardless of the sentence imposed:
- domestic violence;
- sexual abuse or exploitation;
- unlawful possession of firearms;
- driving under the influence; or
- drug distribution or trafficking.
In addition, any other misdemeanor for which an applicant was sentenced to more than 90 days in jail, not including suspended sentences and time held pursuant to an immigration detainer, will be deemed a significant misdemeanor.
In furtherance of the above stated instructions, many kinds of educational institutions or programs may be sufficient to meet the DACA requirement. (Source: USCIS website) :
To be considered “currently in school” under the guidelines, you must be enrolled in:
- a public or private elementary school, junior high or middle school, high school, or secondary school;
- an education, literacy, or career training program (including vocational training) that is designed to lead to placement in post-secondary education, job training, or employment and where you are working toward such placement;
- or an education program assisting students either in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under state law (including a certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or alternate award), or in passing a General Educational Development (GED) exam or other equivalent state-authorized exam.
[dropcap color=”” boxed=”no” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]2[/dropcap]Cost to seek DACA:
The total fees for the application (including an application for an Employment Authorization Document and background check) will be $465. In other words, the deferred application form itself is free but individuals must apply for and submit fees for the employment authorization document application and the biometrics fee.
There will be no fee waiver available for DACA. However, there will be a fee exemption under very limited circumstances for individuals who are in foster care, are disabled, or have medical-care-related debt and whose income is below 150% of the poverty level.
[dropcap color=”” boxed=”no” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]3[/dropcap]When granted deferred action:
The grant of deferred action does not grant legal status to an applicant. In addition, it does not cure such applicant’s previous periods of unlawful presence. However, an applicant who is granted deferred action will not be deemed to be accruing unlawful presence in the U.S. during the time period when deferred action is in effect.
DACA recipients can only travel outside the U.S. if they apply for and receive advanced parole before they travel. (Advanced parole is only granted for humanitarian reasons, educational, or employment reasons).
A denial of an application for deferred action cannot be appealed. However, the applicant could file again (and pay the fee again.)
[dropcap color=”” boxed=”no” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]4[/dropcap]Risks involving deferred action:
Individuals should only apply after consulting with a qualified attorney. If an individual is here unlawfully and USCIS or ICE finds that they do not meet the criteria for deferred action, they may be placed in removal proceedings. Additionally, even if they are granted deferred action, the status is completely discretionary and can be revoked in the future.