DACA Applications – What You Should Know

STAY INFORMED!!! With so many changes, it can be a bit overwhelming, but we are here to help you keep up to date with DACA news and changes. To stay up to date:
– Text DACA2020 to 51555 to be kept in the loop
– Attend our DACA information sessions. One of our attorneys will discuss DACA and answer any questions you may have. Here are the next sessions:
– Friday, August 7 at 3 pm – Register
– Thursday, August 13 at 3 pm – Register
– Thursday, August 13 at 6 pm – Register
– Friday, August 14, at 3 pm – Register
– Wednesday, August 19 at 4 pm – Register
– Thursday, August 20 at 4 pm – Register
– Thursday, August 21 at 4 pm – Register

What is the latest on DACA?

USCIS issued a Memorandum on July 28, 2020 that affects DACA applications, both initial and renewal. In the memo, USCIS has stated that:

  • The will reject all initial DACA applications
  • Continue to accept DACA renewal applications
  • Reduce DACA renewal approvals to one year, instead of two
  • Reject all Advance Parole applications unless an exceptional circumstance can be shown
  • Continue with the DACA information sharing policy as stated before

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What is DACA?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an immigration benefit that was created in 2012 under the Obama administration after a major push from the immigrant youth movement. Although it does not create lawful status in the United States for applicants, it does provide certain benefits, including obtaining a work permit, access to obtaining a social security card and driver’s license, among other things. DACA can be renewed as long as a person continues to be eligible.

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Who qualifies to apply for DACA?

Although the general requirements are listed below, it is important to understand which may apply to you. If you have never been granted DACA status before, you would be filing for an Initial DACA application. If you have had DACA before, even if it was cancelled or it lapsed and you did not apply, you would be seeking a DACA renewal.

Initial DACA applications. Per USCIS, one may request initial consideration if:

  1.  Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 (born June 16, 1981 or after); 
  2. Came to the United States before reaching 16th birthday; 
  3. Has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request with USCIS; 
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012,
    1. No lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012; or 
    2. Lawful status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012. 
  6. Currently in school, graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school,  obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces; and 
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
 For initial applications, the following information is also needed:
  • Whether applicant has ever been in removal proceedings (initial and renewal)
  • Every address lived in since initial entry (initial) or every address lived in since last submission of DACA application (renewal)
  • Departures from U.S. since arrival and whether Advance Parole used to leave U.S.

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Renewal applications

Once DACA is granted, DACA holders, to renew, have to show:

  1.  Did not depart the United States on or after June 15, 2007, without advance parole;
  2. Continuously residence in the United States since he or she submitted his or her most recent DACA request that was approved up until the present time; and
  3. Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

For the renewal application, only an update of addresses lived in since the last application is needed. If there are any new criminal issues, that may also need to be updated.

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What happens after I apply for DACA?

In general, initial DACA is straightforward for most applicants, unless they have some sort of criminal issue or can’t show sufficient documentation. Once an application has been submitted, USCIS sends a receipt notice from USCIS. Soon after, a biometrics appointment notice is sent for fingerprints to conduct a background check. After that, it is time to wait for a decision. Approval notices have been received very quickly as of late, even days after submission.

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What kind of documents can I use to prove I qualify for DACA initially?

Proof of identity
  • Passport
  • National identity document from your country of origin
  • Birth certificate (accompanied by photo ID)
  • School or Military photo ID
  • Any U.S. Government document bearing your name and photo
Proof of arrival before 16th birthday
  • Passport with admission stamp
  • Form I-94, I-95, or I-94W
  • School records
  • Any immigration or DHS document stating your date of entry (i.e. Form I-862 or a Notice to Appear)
  • Travel records
  • Hospital or medical records
Proof of immigration status
  • Form I-94, I-95, or I-94 W with expiration date of authorized stay
  • Final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal issue on or after June 15, 2012
  • A charging document placing you in removal proceedings
Proof of presence in US on June 15,2012
  • Rent receipts or utility bills
  • Employment records (pay stubs, W-2 forms, etc.)
  • School records (letters, report cards, etc)
  • Military records (form DD-214 or NGB Form 22)
  • Official letter from religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony
Proof of continuous residence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • Copies of money order receipts for money sent in/out of country
  • Passport entries
  • Birth certificates of children born in the U.S.
  • Dated bank transactions
  • Social Security card
  • Automobile license receipts or registration
  • Deeds, mortgages, or rental agreement contracts
  • Tax receipts and/or insurance policies
Proof of education requirement
  • School records (transcripts, report cards, etc.) from U.S. school where you are currently enrolled
  • U.S. high school diploma or certificate of completion
  • U.S. GED Certificate
Proof of Honorable Discharge (if applicable)
  • Form DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
  • NGB Form 22, National Guard Report of Separation, and Record of Service
  • Military personnel & health records
Fees & Photos
  • RAICES fees: Currently waived
  • USCIS fees: $495 (money order)
  • 2 passport style photos

Note: Proof of continual residence should be done at 3 month increments or less, to show you have continually lived in the U.S.

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Is obtaining DACA difficult?

As with all immigration applications, there is a minimum level of documentation needed to send to get an approval for any application. This is called the burden of proof and is always on the applicant. DACA in general has been relatively easy to get, provided all documentation requested has been submitted. This is true also for DACA renewals. That being said, we don’t know if the current administration will make it harder to get. It is important to submit all documents needed to submit the best application possible.

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When can I send in my application?

It depends. If you already have DACA, you can renew at this time. It would be wise to consider renewing your DACA application in case USCIS decides to stop taking applications at any point. We recommend submission of your DACA renewal application between 3-6 months. For those that may be looking to apply for the first time, USCIS has stated they will reject the applications, but we also understand that many may not want to wait.There may be reasons to file, even if USCIS has decided to reject the applications.

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Where do I send my DACA application?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) is the department of the U.S. government that receives immigration applications. The address of where you send it depends on where you live. We recommend that before you send in any applications, you make a full copy of your application and mail it to USCIS with tracking information. Check here to confirm what address to send the application to:

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What is advance parole, should I apply for it and should I travel?

DACA holders at one time were eligible to travel by applying for a pre-approved permission to travel outside the U.S. This was done fairly regularly until the Trump administration stopped considering the applications. At this time, USCIS has stated they will not accept applications and that they will reject them. If you decide to file an application for Advance Parole, be sure to understand all the risks that entail traveling outside the U.S.

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Are there risks to applying for DACA?

It is important to understand the benefits and risks of applying for DACA, especially the first time. This is something you will have to consider before you submit your application. There is no way for anyone to guarantee any results when submitting an application with USCIS. The benefits to obtaining DACA are great, especially when a person does not qualify for other immigration benefits. At the same time, one risk in applying is that USCIS will have your latest information, including where you live. Also, if USCIS decides to reject your application, they could keep the $495.00 fee sent in. Another risk is that USCIS could use your information to place you in removal proceedings if you have criminal history, for example.

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What should one do if placed in removal proceedings?

When a person is placed in removal proceedings, that means the U.S. government is actively trying to remove that person from the U.S. For anyone in removal proceedings, it is strongly recommended to speak to an attorney to understand what options are available. It is important to understand if you qualify for any defenses in Immigration Court, deadlines and next steps. One common defense, for example, is Cancellation of Removal for Certain non-permanent residents. Consult an attorney if you need further guidance. Others that are married to U.S. citizens may have additional options.

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What is RAICES doing to help?

Yes! RAICES is committed to helping you understand what resources are available for you. We are providing free consultations, free legal representation to those that need help renewing DACA, and financial assistance to cover your DACA application fees..

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Do I have any rights if I don’t have DACA?

It is very important to know your rights. Regardless of your legal status, you have the same constitutional rights as everyone else in the U.S. This includes:

  • Right to remain silent
  • Right to an attorney

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What should I do?

If you have questions about your legal options, speak to an attorney so you can get personalized information. Although general information is very informative, details matter in immigration law

Second, it is important to get involved. Text DACA2020 to 51555 to receive action alerts.

Third, take care of yourself and your family.

Here are some additional resources (en español) to help you.

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RAICES Statement for DACA SCOTUS Decision

DACA lives…for now. Our statement on the Supreme Court’s DACA decision.

DACA Scholarship Application

You might be eligible for financial support with your application fees

Tell Trump: Hands off DACA

Add your name to demand the Administration keep its hands off DACA