I have DACA. How do I get a green card?
DACA has been a tale of heartache and hope over the past four years as the courts decided whether it remain available for those people who came to the United States as children and know no other country but this one. With DACA again being available, the natural next question is: Where does it lead? Can I get a green card?
To begin with, understand that DACA is not an immigration status. (Wondering if you’re eligible? Check out the list of factors here). Instead of giving the person a visa or a green card, DACA simply says that the United States government will not deport someone back to their country of birth. The current immigration bill pending in Congress may change that, but we have not gotten there yet. Instead, DACA holders are still in “limbo” where the status itself does not let the holder get a green card but does allow them to stay in the country. DACA status has to be renewed periodically; if you need information about what is required, check out ILRC and our previous blog post about DACA.
So what does that mean for a DACA holder?
DACA holders can get a work permit (permiso), a driver’s license, can qualify for a loan, and live a somewhat normal life in the United States. If a DACA holder commits a crime, however, their status may be in jeopardy. So be on the lookout for other options about how to get your green card and hopefully even citizenship.
As the DACA holder lives their American dream, they will inevitably start dating and hopefully find love. A DACA holder who marries a United States citizen can get a green card because of that marriage. Similarly, if parents, siblings, or children become United States citizens, they may be able to sponsor you for a green card based on that family relationship. Of course, you should always marry because you want to be married to the person, not for immigration purposes. Someone who marries for immigration status not only will not get a green card, but could even get charged with a crime in extreme circumstances.
International Travel with DACA and Advance Parole
Unlike other undocumented people, DACA holders do have the opportunity to travel outside of the United States. Before booking that fabulous vacation, however, DACA holders should remember that travel does still have some restrictions. Specifically, DACA holders need permission to travel, available for “humanitarian, education, or employment” purposes only (so vacations would not qualify). This permission, called advance parole, uses Form I-131 and can take six months or longer to process. Planning ahead and providing the right supporting documents is key to getting permission to travel.
No matter what your circumstances or background, if you think you might be eligible for DACA or would like to discuss what comes next, we are happy to discuss what is available for you.