How To Apply For DACA
Now that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is back in full force, many people will be able to apply for the first time. The process may be confusing, so we are here to offer some guidance on the DACA application process.
What Is DACA?
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The program was enacted during former President Obama’s tenure. DACA offers administrative relief from deportation to people who were brought to the United States as children. It also allows those people to apply for employment authorization and advance parole to facilitate international travel. An approved application grants relief for a period of two years, subject to renewal if the person maintains eligibility.
What Are the DACA Requirements in 2020?
In order to be eligible for the DACA program, an individual must:
- Have come to the United States before they reached 16 years of age
- Have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007
- Have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and on every day since August 15, 2012
- Not have had a different lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, and not have a different lawful immigration status at the time you apply for DACA
- Be at least 15 years old unless you are in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order (so long as you are not in detention); in these instances, you can apply even before you turn 15
- Have graduated from high school, received a general education development (GED) certificate, be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces, or “be in school” on the date you apply for DACA
- Not have a felony conviction
- Not have a significant misdemeanor offense or three or more misdemeanor offenses
- Not otherwise be deemed to pose a threat to national security or public safety
What Is the Application Process Like for First-Time Applicants?
To apply for DACA, you will need to fill out and file Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Along with that, you should also fill out and file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and I-765WS.
Please make sure you fill out all necessary parts of the forms. If you leave any parts blank, that can be grounds for denial even if you would otherwise be eligible. For ease, we have created the chart below to explain which parts I-821D are mandatory and which can potentially be left blank (depending on your situation).
MUST FILL OUT COMPLETELY
CAN POTENTIALLY LEAVE BLANK
Information about you
Part 3 For Initial Requests Only
Residences and Travel Information
Contact Information, Certification, and Signature of the Interpreter
Criminal, National Security, and Public Information
Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Request, If Other than the Requestor
Statement, Certification, Signature, and Contact Information of the Requestor
If you would like to receive an email or text notification when USCIS has received your application, you can also file a Form, G-1145, e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. Apart from the forms named above, you will want to provide USCIS with proof that you meet the eligibility requirements. You will need documents to prove you have lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007. This can include documents like school records, medical records, employment records, military records, or even things like bills with your name and U.S. address. If any of these documents are in another language, make sure they are translated into English. These can be done by a professional translation service company or by someone you know, as long as they provide a dated and signed statement certifying that they are competent to translate from that language into English.
In order to prove the educational requirements, you can provide a diploma, a certificate, or some proof of enrollment in school, alternative homeschooling program, or an alternative education program intended to assist with getting a high school equivalent degree.
If you have ever been arrested and/or have a criminal history, you will want to request a copy of your criminal history either from your state or from the FBI. Requesting your criminal history from the state will vary based on which state you were in, but for California, you can find out how to get your history here. You should also request what is usually called a “disposition letter” or “certificate of disposition” from the court where you had your criminal case. These documents detail the final decision in your case and will be key in informing USCIS whether you qualify or not.
Once you are done filling out all of your forms, you can file them by mailing them to the appropriate USCIS address. The address depends on where you live and which carrier service you are using. You can find the appropriate address here. We generally recommend that you make a copy of everything you file with USCIS so that you have a record of what you filed.
What is the DACA Filing Fee?
There is a filing fee that you must pay when mailing out your application documents. For DACA, the filing fee is $495, which includes the fee for the employment authorization and biometrics. This fee cannot under any circumstances be waived, even if the applicant is unable to pay.
What Happens After You File?
After you file, you will hopefully just wait until you receive a Notice of Receipt and later a letter to go in for biometrics. This letter will give you an appointment to go into a local USCIS office in order to provide your fingerprints. These will be used to run a background check on you so that USCIS can be sure you are eligible for the program. If all goes well from there, you should not have to wait terribly long to receive your DACA approval notice and employment authorization card.
Another possibility is that you get a Notice of Intent to Deny or a Request for Evidence. If you receive these, do not despair. It does not mean that you will not get DACA status or that you are not eligible. These mean that USCIS either requires more evidence to verify your eligibility or they believe you are ineligible but are giving you an opportunity to show otherwise. If you get either of these, it is highly recommended that you consult with a qualified immigration attorney so that they can best figure out what went wrong and what kind of documents you will need to provide to remedy the problem.
Get Legal Assistance With Your DACA Application to Ensure It's Correct
The protracted process of filing for DACA can be daunting, doing so can absolutely be worthwhile for eligible immigrants. Being in the program and having a work permit can truly open up many doors and benefits for recipients. If you believe you might be eligible for the program, we highly recommend that you explore enrolling. If you are afraid of going through the process alone, you can always consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who will assess your eligibility and will strategically prepare your application to give you the best chances of approval.
Want to know more about how to apply for DACA? At Yekrangi & Associates, we have substantial experience in the application process. Do not hesitate to schedule an initial consultation with our team by contacting us online or calling (949) 478-4963. Reach out today.