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DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals


On July 16, 2021, a federal district court in Texas halted the DACA program for initial (first-time) applicants but allowed the program to remain in place for now for current DACA recipients, who may continue to renew. The court ruled that DACA is unlawful and sent the policy back to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for further consideration. Under the court order, DHS may not grant DACA to initial (first-time) applicants until further order of the court, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, or the United States Supreme Court. However, DHS may continue to accept initial (first-time) DACA applications for filing, even though it cannot currently grant them.  Individuals who currently have DACA can maintain their status and continue to renew, for now.

There may be a limited window of opportunity to submit an application for renewal or initial DACA.  We anticipate further developments regarding the DACA program as litigation continues and as the Administration considers its policy and regulatory options. We will provide additional information as it becomes available. 

Here is what you need to know:

(1) Current DACA and work permits are still valid.  

  • Those who have already been approved for DACA before the new court order can maintain their status and their current DACA work permits remain valid.

(2) USCIS continues to accept and grant DACA renewal requests.

  • Those who may be eligible for DACA renewal should consult with a trusted immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative for individualized advice. There may be a limited window of opportunity to apply for renewal. The associated application fee is $495.
  • Renewal applicants should generally file their renewal request between 150 and 120 days before their current grant of DACA expires. USCIS may also accept requests received more than 150 days before the current grant of DACA expires.

(3) USCIS cannot currently grant initial (first-time) DACA requests.

  • The court order prohibits USCIS from granting initial (first-time) DACA requests, even if the request was filed and pending before the order was issued.
  • USCIS can still accept initial (first-time) DACA requests for filing (meaning USCIS will not reject and return them) but USCIS cannot currently grant those requests.
  • We anticipate clarification from USCIS on how they will handle initial DACA requests that are pending but cannot currently be granted.
  • Those who may be eligible for DACA and are considering submitting an initial (first-time) request, should consult with a trusted immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative for individualized advice. There may be a limited window of opportunity to apply. The associated application fee is $495.
  • Initial DACA applicants need to provide evidence that they meet the following DACA eligibility guidelines:
    • Entered the United States before 16th birthday
    • Continuously resided in the United States since at least June 15, 2007 until the present
    • Physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, without lawful status
    • Under 31 years old on June 15, 2012 (born after 06/15/1981)
    • Currently in school, or graduated from high school, or obtained a GED, or honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces or coast guard
    • Pass a criminal background check
    • Must be at least 15 years old to apply (unless in removal proceedings or previously ordered deported)

4) USCIS continues to accept Advance Parole (international travel permit) applications.

  • Those who are considering applying for Advance Parole should consult with a trusted immigration attorney or DOJ accredited representative before making the decision to apply and before traveling outside the United States even if Advance Parole is granted.
  • Advance parole may be granted to DACA recipients for humanitarian, educational, and employment reasons.
  • There may be a limited window of opportunity to apply.

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 legislative solution.  You can take action through the following tools from our partners: United We Dream’s Dream and Promise Act resource www.dreamandpromise.com; Immigrant Legal Resource Center’s Dream and Promise Act resource https://www.nilc.org/action-dream-and-promise/.

 

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 deferredaction@equaljusticecenter.org. 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. Please note that due to high demand and limited resources, appointments may not be immediately available. We schedule appointments as soon as they are available, on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Last updated: 7/21/2021


Below you’ll find information that will help you understand your rights when questioned about your immigration status by local or state police. 

Know Your Rights Under SB4