Deferred Action for Childhood Applicants or “DACA” is a program that began in 2012 to provide a form of relief to certain individuals who arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday. The best way to describe DACA is as (1) a formal recognition by the U.S. government that it is not seeking to deport you, and (2) a grant of work permission.
If you believe you might be eligible for DACA, it is extremely important to consult an attorney to evaluate your eligibility. Applying for DACA can be a scary experience because a person is often for the first time submitting their personal information and immigration history to the U.S. government for review.
If a person applies for DACA who has substantial criminal convictions, has been charged with serious offenses or has serious immigration violations such as fraudulent applications, there is a risk that not only could their DACA application be denied, but they could also be placed in deportation proceedings. In such cases, it is obviously extremely important to evaluate this risk with an attorney before applying for DACA.
You are eligible to apply for DACA if you meet the following requirements:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
NEWS FLASH: KEY CHANGES TO DACA WERE ANNOUNCED ON NOVEMBER 20, 2014. THESE CHANGES HAVE NOT YET BEEN IMPLEMENTED, HOWEVER STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT WHEN THEY TAKE AFFECT (OR CALL US AT 303-872-6985 TO BE PLACED IN OUR “BREAKING NEWS” EMAIL LIST). SEE BELOW FOR DETAILS.
Expansion of DACA. DACA will be revised to get rid of the age requirement that you had to be under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012 to qualify. The date that continuous presence in the U.S. must have begun will be changed to January 1, 2010 (from June 15, 2007). The duration of each DACA grant will be lengthened from 2 to 3 years. This expansion of the DACA program is expected to take affect much quicker than the new program for parents (DAP). USCIS is striving to implement these changes within 90 days.