What Is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

What Is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Beginning in June 2012, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) changed the way they would handle immigration cases of individuals that came to the US as children without proper documentation. The new policies provide specific guidelines that must be met by the individual to obtain ‘deferred action’ for up to 24 months. Deferred action means that the government will temporarily ‘defer’ or stop the deportation of the child immigration while he or she maintains this status.  The process is subject to review and renewal and also provides the applicant with work authorization eligibility.

Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals as provided by USCIS is issued after a discretionary determination has been made, but does not offer lawful status to the individual.

Transforming Immigration Enforcement

Since 2010, federal agencies have made great strides in transforming the processes and procedures of immigration enforcement. Their guidance has been focused more on border security, public safety, and the immigration system’s integrity.

In this effort, many of the enforcement resources have focused mainly on removing or deporting unlawful immigrants that pose a specific danger to the country’s national security or potential harm to public safety. This includes any person that has been convicted of a felony crime, especially those who are repeat offenders, felons, or criminals found guilty of violent or fraud based crimes.

Diverting Resources

More recently, federal agencies have been diverting enforcement resources away from low priority cases, including individuals that were brought to the US as children. People that have the ability to demonstrate they meet the following regulations might be able to request deferred action for a period of 24 months (with possible renewal) and provide employment authorization eligibility.

If you meet the following requirements, you may be able to request deferred action. These requirements include:

  • As of the 15th day of June 2012, you were younger than 31 years old.
  • You were brought to the United States without documentation before you were 16 years old.
  • You have continually resided within the boundaries of the United States since the 15th day of June 2007 until now.
  • As of the 15th day of June 2012, you were physically present within the United States borders. Additionally, you are in the United States when making the request to be considered for deferred action.
  • You are currently active in school, or have graduated, or acquired a GED (general education development) certificate or currently hold a high school certificate of completion. If not, being a veteran of the US Armed Forces or Coast Guard will meet this requirement.
  • To date you have not been convicted of a major misdemeanor, or felony. You have not been convicted of more than two non-substantial misdemeanors, and have never posed any risk to the nation’s security or safety.

One of the major factors in achieving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is the ability to obtain your employment authorization. Although you will not receive lawful immigration status within the United States, you will also not accrue an unlawful presence during that period of time when the deferred action is active and will be allowed to work legally.

Requesting consideration to receive deferred action requires the submittal of form USCIS I-821D, along with form I-765 WS. This completed worksheet will help establish the economic need you have for current employment.  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is discretionary, which means that USCIS may consider positive or negative factors involved with your case when determining whether to approve your application. After the application has been submitted and accepted, the USCIS agency will inform you in writing, of the determination that was made in your specific case.

If you have questions about whether you should submit an application for DACA, please contact us today.