Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Effective June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced a new discretionary immigration policy to grant "deferred action" status to certain young people who were brought to this country as children. Subject to prosecutorial discretion, an eligible individual may no longer be removed from the country or entered into removal proceedings provided that the individual:
- Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching his or her 16th birthday;
- Resided continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or his or her lawful immigration status had expired as of June 15, 2012;
- As of the date of the application, be currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or be honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
On August 3, 2012, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas provided further detail on the process for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In addition to clarifying the eligibility requirements, Director Mayorkas highlighted several key aspects of the program:
- All requestors for consideration of Deferred Action—including those in removal proceedings, those with final orders of removal, and those who have never been in removal proceedings—must be filed with USCIS. Only those requestors currently in detention should file their requests with ICE.
- Required fees will total $465, which includes the application fee for employment authorization. While there is no fee waiver available for this program, a fee exemption may be available in very limited circumstances. A request for fee exemption must be filed and approved before the Deferred Action request may be submitted.
- While documentary evidence is required to prove that a requestor meets all of the eligibility criteria, certain affidavits and circumstantial evidence may also be used to fill in any remaining evidentiary gaps.
- Requests denied by USCIS may not be appealed, nor will motions to reopen or reconsider be accepted.
- Cases denied Deferred Action will not generally be referred to ICE, unless the USCIS Notice to Appear guidelines apply.
- Brief, casual, innocent trips abroad that took place before August 15, 2012, will not be held against a requestor when determining whether he or she has been physically present in the United States since June 15, 2007. However, departures from the U.S. after August 15, 2012, will disqualify a requestor from eligibility for deferred action under this program. Once an individual has been granted Deferred Action, he or she may only leave the United States after applying for advance parole using Form I-131, which requires the payment of a $360 filing fee.
The USCIS website has updated information regarding:
- Guidelines for Requesting Consideration of Deferred Action
- Filing Process
- Cases in Other Immigration Processes
- Avoiding Scams and Preventing Fraud
Transcript of President Obama's Remarks, June 15, 2012
Secretary Napolitano Memo, June 15, 2012
USCRI Press Release, August 3, 2012
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Memo, June 15, 2012
Dept. of Homeland Security DREAM Deferred Action FAQ's
USCRI Press Release
Public Counsel Law Center's Deferred Action Evidence Checklist
Public Counsel Law Center's Deferred Action Evidence Checklist (SPANISH version)
AILA Guide on Preparing to Defend Deferred Action Clients
ILRC Practice Advisory for Criminal Defenders
USCIS Informational Brochure, August 3, 2012
USCIS DACA Flowchart
American Immigration Council, Practice Advisory, August 13, 2012
This information is not intended as legal advice. It is advisable to consult an immigration attorney to determine whether you are eligible for any benefit under immigration law or policy.