DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new DACA memorandum on July 28, 2020, which made certain immediate changes to the DACA program and announced a plan to consider fully terminating DACA again.
The immediate changes under the new DACA memo are instructions for USCIS to:
(1) reject all initial (first-time) DACA requests, and associated work permit applications,
(2) reject all Advance Parole (international travel permit) requests from DACA recipients unless there are “exceptional circumstances,” and
(3) continue accepting DACA renewal requests, but limit renewed DACA and work authorization to 1-year increments (rather than 2-year increments), for any cases approved after the memo was issued.
The new DACA memo was issued more than a month after the Supreme Court required (under its June 18, 2020 order), and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently mandated, that USCIS fully restore the DACA program, including by accepting initial (first-time) DACA requests and applications for Advance Parole. The new DACA memo also comes on the heels of a federal district court order in Maryland on July 17, 2020, which explicitly required the federal government to begin accepting initial DACA requests and applications for Advance Parole. Instead of following the court orders to fully restore DACA, DHS has further restricted the program under the new DACA memo.
We anticipate further developments regarding the DACA program and will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Here is what you need to know:
(1) USCIS (Immigration) continues to accept DACA renewal requests for individuals who currently have DACA or have ever had DACA in the past.
- However, DACA and work authorization granted after the issuance of the new DACA memo will only be for a 1-year period (instead of 2 years).
- This includes both renewal requests that were already pending when the new DACA memo was issued, and renewal requests that were submitted after the new DACA memo was issued.
- The associated fee for renewal requests has not changed. It remains at $495.
- DACA recipients should file their renewal request between 150 and 120 days before their current grant of DACA expires. USCIS will generally reject requests received more than 150 days before the current grant of DACA expires.
- It is unclear how long USCIS will continue to accept DACA renewal requests as the Trump Administration continues to consider full termination of the DACA program. We encourage anyone who may be eligible to renew to consult with a trusted immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative for an individualized consultation.
(2) USCIS is not currently accepting initial (first-time) DACA request for individuals who have never had DACA before.
- Under the new DACA memo, USCIS is instructed to reject all initial (first-time) DACA requests and refund all associated fees.
- This includes both initial requests that were already pending when the new DACA memo was issued, and initial requests that were submitted after the new DACA memo was issued.
- Be prepared – In the event there are further changes and DACA becomes available again for initial applicants, those who may be eligible should consider gathering documents to prove they meet the eligibility guidelines, including: living in the U.S. since at least June 15, 2007, physical presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, arrival in the U.S. before turning 16 years old, and graduation from high school, completion of GED or current enrollment in school.
- Individuals may also consider consulting with a trusted immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative for individualized advice regarding other immigration options.
(3) USCIS is not currently accepting Advance Parole (international travel permit) applications for individuals with DACA.
- Under the new DACA memo, USCIS is instructed to reject all applications for Advance Parole from DACA holders, unless there are “exceptional circumstances.”
- Some examples of "exceptional circumstances" that may warrant approval include, but are not limited to, situations such as:
- Travel to support the national security interests of the United States;
- Travel to support U.S. federal law enforcement interests;
- Travel to obtain life-sustaining medical treatment that is not otherwise available to the alien in the United States; or
- Travel needed to support the immediate safety, wellbeing or care of an immediate relative, particularly minor children of the alien.
- There are significant considerations that should be discussed with a trusted immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative before making the decision to apply for Advance Parole and before traveling outside the United States.
(4) DACA authorizations and work permits issued before the new DACA memo are not affected.
- The new DACA memo does not affect DACA authorizations and work permits that were issued (approved) before the issuance of the new DACA memo. DACA authorizations and work permits will remain valid until their expiration date. (Note, however; an individual grant of DACA may still be revoked or terminated if the DACA holder becomes ineligible for DACA, or upon discretion on an individual case).
- USCIS will replace two-year work permits that are lost, stolen or damaged with the same facial two-year validity period, assuming the work permit replacement application is otherwise approvable.
(5) Please beware of notarios and always seek assistance from a reputable immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative.
(6) We must continue to pressure Congress to pass a Dream Act.
You may contact the Equal Justice Center to seek assistance with your DACA case by calling our toll-free hotline at 888.670.6854 or emailing us at email@example.com. If you have any questions about the DACA program or your DACA work permit, or if you need assistance applying for a replacement work permit, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Below you’ll find information that will help you understand your rights when questioned about your immigration status by local or state police.