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DACA program eligibility and requirements 2021

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This article about the DACA program is part of Documented’s Glossary. We want to make it easier for all to understand the US immigration system. If you want to know more about different visa types and immigration terms, please check our library here.

We have received many questions regarding the updates on the DACA program, including what will happen with initial applications and renewals. This is a summary of what we read from USCIS, updated on July 19th,  2021

The latest on DACA

What happened recently with the DACA program?

On July 16th, 2021 a federal judge in Texas ruled against the DACA program, immediately pausing the processing of any new applications that were not approved by the date of the decision.  Renewals for active DACA beneficiaries, however, are still accepted. 

Are there new applications for DACA?

NO. Unfortunately, while you can still submit your application to USCIS, it will not be processed. Source: UWD.

Also read: How to Apply for a Tourist Visa Extension

I have DACA, how does the ruling affect me?

If you already had DACA or were approved before July 16th, the ruling won’t impact you immediately. It primarily halts new applications from being processed by USCIS. 

DACA beneficiaries have long been eligible to apply for advance parole— which allows them to travel out of the states and re-entry the country lawfully  based on educational, humanitarian, or exceptional circumstances. USCIS acting director Tracy Renaud said in statement that advance parole will not be affected by the ruling, and that individuals approved for DACA will still be eligible to request and receive it.

What is next for DACA after this decision

In a statement released by The White House on July 17th, President Biden said that the Department of Justice (DOJ) intends to appeal [the] decision in order to preserve and fortify DACA. 

The statement also noted that “only Congress can ensure a permanent solution by granting a path to citizenship for Dreamers that will provide the certainty and stability that these young people need and deserve.” 

Representatives have signaled a possible path to citizenship for DACA recipients, and other groups, via the budget reconciliation process.

In addition, there is also The American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 (H.R.6) which passed the house in march, and includes a path to citizenship for DACA recipients as well. As of July, it has yet to be introduced in the senate for a vote.

General DACA questions

What is the DACA program?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA is a program implemented by the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2012. It protects people, who came to the US as minors from deportation, which has to be renewed every two years.  It also allows people who have come to the country as undocumented children to receive temporary work permits, driver’s licenses and a social security number.

About 700,000 thousand people benefit from the program.

Who Qualifies for the DACA program?

You can file a petition for the DACA program if:

  • You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
  • You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, to the present
  • Was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of filing the request for Consideration of Deferred Action with USCIS
  • Had no legal status on June 15, 2012
  • You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have earned a General Education Development Certificate (GED), or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States, and
  • You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and in no other way constitutes a threat to national security or public safety.

Source: USCIS

Also read: Legal Help for immigrants in New York State

Can I renew my DACA?

Yes. USCIS will continue to process renewals. We have heard of processing times taking longer than previous years, so it is recommended to renew 5-6 months in advance. 

Also Read: Guide on how ActionNYC works, a program that provides free legal services in New York City

How do I renew it?

Complete and sign:

Note: Do not submit any additional documents at the time of your renewal request unless: You have new documents related to removal proceedings or criminal history that you did not previously send to USCIS in a previous DACA petition that was approved. Source: USCIS

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