Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an American immigration policy which allows certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthday and before June 2007 to receive a renewable two-year work permit and exemption from deportation. It does not confer legal immigration status or provide a path to citizenship. It was started by the Obama administration in June 2012.
At the program’s start, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 1.7 million people might be eligible. As of June 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted DACA status to about 581,000 individuals and denied to about 24,000.
In November 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama announced changes to DACA which would expand it to include illegal immigrants who entered the country before 2010, eliminate the requirement that applicants be younger than 31 years old, and lengthen the renewable deferral period to three years. The Pew Research Center estimated that this would increase the number of eligible people by about 330,000.
To qualify for DACA, applicants must meet the following major requirements, although meeting them does not guarantee approval.
- Came to the United States before 16th birthday
- Have lived continuously in the United States since 15 July 2007
- Were under age 31 on 15 June 2012
- Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are enrolled in school
- Have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanors
In August 2012, the Migration Policy Institute estimated that as many as 1.76 million people could be eligible for DACA. Of those, 28% were under 15 and would have to wait until reaching that age to apply. In addition, roughly 20% did not meet any of the education criteria, but could become eligible by enrolling in a program before submitting their application. 74% of the eligible population was born in Mexico or Central America. Smaller proportions came from Caribbean and South America (11%), Asia (9%), and the rest of the world (6%).
To apply for DACA, individuals must pay a $465 application fee, submit a number of forms, and produce documents showing they meet the requirements.
USCIS released the process for DACA renewals in June 2014 and directed applicants to file their documents during a 30-day window starting 150 days before the expiration of their previous DACA status. Renewing requires an additional $465 fee.
For more information please contact our office now to set up an appointment with attorney Daniel Lenghea to determine the best cause of action.