DACA Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is implementing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This program temporarily allows some eligible youth to go to school and work without fear of deportation. The legal concept of deferred action is not new and has long been a part of US immigration law. What is new is the creation of a procedure by the federal government that allows young people to initiate a process to be registered with the USCIS and obtain work authorization for a 24 month period. The issuance of a work authorization card allows thee students to go to the social security office and obtain a valid social security number. In the state of California, they can then go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and obtain a state ID and or driver's license.
Deferred action is a discretionary determination made by USCIS to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. In other words, once you have identified yourself as unlawfully in the country, the immigration service can choose not start the legal process to remove you from the country. Instead they grant you work authorization because you have stayed out of trouble and have completed school.
Since this program is not based on any new law, it does not grant any kind of immigration status. In its current form it cannot be used to later qualify for permanent residence or US citizenship.
Nonetheless, the new procedure is a valuable step in the right direction because it does allow registered individuals, who have been granted work authorization to attend school, apply for jobs and find lawful employment.
Three forms are used to register for the DACA deferred action program:
From I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
From I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
From I-765WS, Worksheet
The filing fee is $465.00 which consists of $380.00 for work authorization and $45.00 for the biometrics (fingerprints and photographs).
To establish eligibility for the DACA program you must demonstrate the following:
1. Be at least 15 years of age or older at the time of filing
2. Were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
3. Arrived in the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
4. Have Continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 to the present;
5. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, as well as at the time of requesting deferred action from USCIS
6. Entered without inspection into the United States before June 15, 2012, or any lawful immigration status expired on or before June 15, 2012;
7. On the date of application, are in school, have graduated, or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces;
8. 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.
USCIS will conduct a background check. Your biometrics will be used to determine if you have a criminal record that would disqualify you. If you do have any convictions the burden will be on you to prove that they do not disqualify you from the program. Any arrests, charges or convictions should be reviewed by an immigration attorney.
Your prior immigration and removal proceedings history is another factor that needs to be carefully reviewed by a legal professional.
These cases are document intensive because school, medical, banking and employment records need to be used to document physical presence and continuous residence. Presenting these documents in an organized and logical way is important.
It is especially useful to have an attorney review your documentation, because the long term goal should be to prepare a written record that will not interfere with eventually qualifying you for permanent residence in the United States.
This program was designed to be a temporary and not a permanent solution. Any comprehensive immigration reform legislation will most likely modify this program.