What is DACA?
On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.
DACA does NOT give any legal status to those that apply and it does not establish a pathway towards citizenship. It gives temporary protection from deportation procedures, as well as a two-year work permit for those who qualify.
Who Qualifies for DACA?
You may request DACA if you:
- 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;
- Had no lawful status on 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, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Anyone requesting DACA must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA.
If you have specific questions about DACA please make a legal services appointment with CARECEN.
Check Your Case Status Online
On July 16, 2021, a Federal District Court in Texas issued a ruling in Texas v. United States limiting the DACA policy and declaring it unlawful. While some of these topics are still developing, for now it is important to understand how this ruling impacts the DACA community.
What does this decision mean for DACA recipients?
Current DACA cases remain valid. People who currently have DACA keep their DACA protection and work permit. Nothing has changed with already approved DACA cases.
DACA renewals continue. People who have DACA now or had DACA in the past are still eligible to renew their case. Pending renewal applications will be processed normally. A DACA request will be considered a renewal if it is filed by someone who currently has DACA (your work permit/DACA is still valid) or whose last DACA grant expired less than a year ago. Note that USCIS considers any application from an individual whose DACA expired more than one year ago as an initia filing, and therefore, is prohibited from approving these cases at the moment and will be put on hold.
What does this mean for DACA eligible individuals who have requested DACA as an initial?
First time DACA applications are on hold. No new DACA applications will be approved at this time. The Court decision has blocked USCIS from approving any new DACA cases. This means that all people who have submitted a DACA initial application (i.e., those that never had DACA and are applying for the first time) and have not received an approval from USCIS will have their application and processing fee held at this time. Additionally, USCIS has canceled all upcoming biometrics appointments. If you completed your biometrics, it will not impact you. This applies to all initial cases that were not approved prior to July 16, 2021.
What about people who were preparing to file their first DACA request?
The judge’s decision prohibits USCIS from approving any first-time DACA requests at this time. USCIS can accept initial DACA requests and send a receipt notice but will not issue any decision on these. It is unclear whether there is any benefit to submitting a first-time DACA request now and having it pending. Stay tuned for guidance.
What if someone was just granted DACA for the first time?
If you were recently granted DACA for the first time, your DACA will remain valid. You should plan to renew your DACA in the future and in the meantime stay informed about changes and updates to the DACA policy.
What does it mean overall?
We will likely hear more about the DACA policyin the future. People will continue to fight to protect DACA and the legal case will continue in the courts. The Biden administration may make additional announcements about the program in the future. It is important to stay informed and to speak with a trusted legal service provider about your specific case!
What can I do now?
- Talk with a legal service provider to better understand how this decision may impact your case. Find a legal expert in your area.
- If you are eligible to renew your DACA, renew your case now! It is advised that DACA recipients file renewal requests four to five months before the expiration of your current DACA validity period. Speak with a legal service provid- er to get screened and informed about your options.
- Stay involved and raise your voice—DACA recipients and their allies must demand that the Biden administration protect DACA, and Congress finally provides a permanent and inclusive solution for all undocumented immigrants.
- For more in-depth information visit ILRC’s DACA Toolkit.
What Can You Do If You Don’t Qualify for DACA?
Unfortunately, DACA does not benefit all in our undocumented community. Undocumented students without DACA can face additional barriers, but many pathways exist for these students to accomplish their goals and thrive. Check out these resources by Immigrants Rising:
- Other forms of immigration relief exist beyond DACA. You may read more about them in this guide, “Beyond DACA: Immigration Options Every Undocumented Person Should Know”
- To see what you’re eligible for, make an appointment for general consultation with our legal services team.
- Without a work permit obtained from DACA, generating income can be difficult. Many undocumented individuals have found success starting a business and freelancing as an alternative. To learn more about how to start, check out this resource filled with guides and online modules.