What is DACA?

If you aren't familiar with the policy, let's start with the basics – what is DACA? Established by President Barack Obama in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protects approximately 800,000 youth, known as DREAMers, entering the United States unlawfully as children.

The program doesn't grant these DREAMers official legal status or citizenship pathways. It does, however, allow them to apply for a driver's license, social security number, and work permit. So if you're seeking guidance on applying for the program, it pays to speak with an immigration lawyer near you in the greater Philadelphia area who can clarify requirements for you.

What are DACA Requirements?

DACA requires meeting some stringent application requirements. Immigrants up to age 31 can file for deferred action. In addition, you must be at least 15 years or older to request DACA. Requirements for filing include:

  • Applicants must have entered the U.S. unlawfully before their 16th birthday
  • The child must have lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • The applicant was under age 30 on June 15, 2012, meaning they were born on June 16, 1981, or after that
  • They were physically present in the country on June 15, 2012, and at the time, they made their request for deferred action.
  • Applicants had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • The applicant has completed high school or a G.E.D., has been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or has enrolled in school.
  • The applicant has no convictions relating to a felony or serious misdemeanor, has three or more misdemeanors, and does not threaten national security or public safety.

If you have questions about whether or not you meet the requirements, talk to one of our immigration lawyers at our law office.

Filing for DACA

After determining your eligibility for DACA, you'll need to submit supporting documents verifying that you meet all requirements. But if you are applying for DACA the first time, you'll also need to complete Form 1-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization Document).

In addition to submitting the above forms, you'll need to set up and attend a biometrics appointment at a local USCIS Application Support Center. Finally, you should mail all records to the USCIS along with a fee of $495.

Supporting verification documents include:

  • Proof of identity
  • Verification that you entered the U.S. before age 16
  • Proof you established a residence before age 16 if you left the country and returned later
  • Confirmation of residency since June 2007
  • Documentation presenting any absences from the U.S. were temporary, casual, and innocent.
  • Proof of presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
  • Verification of no lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Proof of current education, graduation, G.E.D., or military service
  • Confirmation of honorably discharged veteran status
  • Proof of removal proceedings
  • Proof of criminal history

These documents require completion and submission to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Moreover, you visit the USCIS website here for further clarification regarding acceptable documentation.

Renewing Your Current DACA

If you are renewing a current DACA, you must meet these conditions:

  1. You did not depart the United States on or after August 15, 2012, with a valid travel document
  2. Since submitting your approved DACA request, you resided continuously resided in the U.S.
  3. You have not been convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

You must complete and sign Forms I-821D and I-765. In addition, you must provide proof of updated deportation or removal proceedings. Last, you should present any additional criminal history since your initial application. The renewal fee is $495.

The attorneys in our immigration law office provide counseling on DACA applications. So talk to one today if you have any questions.

Insights About DACA Recipients

Without the threat of deportation, eligible young adults work lawfully, attend school, and plan their lives. Plus, DACA recipients also enjoy greater upward mobility. In addition, they receive better-paying jobs, better education, better working conditions, and more.

As of June 30, 2021, there were 590,070 active DACA recipients, with another 984,413 pending renewal. Some other demographics:

  • 53% females, 47% males
  • Average age 27 and primarily married
  • The largest countries included Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, South Korea, Peru, and Brazil.
  • California and Texas have the highest residence of DACA recipients

Many DACA recipients are considered essential critical infrastructure workers that serve healthcare, education, and food-related industries.

Talk to an Immigration Lawyer if You're Confused About DACA Eligibility

If DACA requirements leave you confused, reach out to an immigration lawyer near you. Our law offices offer counseling on an array of immigration law concerns. We can also support you with questions regarding family law, business law, litigation, workers comp, and much more.

We staff our Bucks County and Montgomery law offices with some of the best lawyers and attorneys in the area. Plus, our law firm has been recognized as Best Law Firm by U.S. News.

DACA Attorneys

Renata T. Pabisz

renata t pabisz estate planning attorney at High Swartz attorneys for law

Renata T. Pabisz is an immigration lawyer and estate planning attorney concentrating on probate, estate administration, and elder law in the Philadelphia metro area.

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