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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is a policy that protects young individuals who were brought to the United States illegally as minors. Although the program does not provide them with formal legal status or a road to citizenship, it does enable them to apply for a driver’s license, social security, and a work permit.
A DACA permit is a reprieve against deportation but a step in the right direction. If you’re covered under the law, it is recommended that you seek a permanent solution. If you’re seeking to apply for protection under the law for the first time, here are the steps you should take:
Are You Eligible?
The first step is to research whether it’s appropriate for you to apply. To be eligible for immigrant protection under DACA, you must qualify under the following conditions:
- Be under 31-years-old as of June 15, 2012
- Have gained entrance into the US before turning 16
- Have resided in the US since June 15, 2007, until now
- You must have been present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time you submitted your DACA application
- Must not have been convicted of a crime, a serious misdemeanor, or several misdemeanors, or otherwise represent a threat to public safety
- Must be enrolled in school, or be a graduate, or an honorable discharged veteran of the US Army
Seek Legal Advice
Consult with an attorney or a representative of the Department of Justice before applying. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of applying and give you much-needed advice and tips about the process.
Prepare Your Documents
Check the official USCIS website for instructions about the forms and documents you need to present for the application. Ensure that the forms you fill out are up-to-date since the USCIS rejects applications with outdated forms. You will need to fill in form I-821D, form I-765, form I-765WS, and form G-1145. Other documents like your tax returns, school certificates, and birth certificates might also be required. Ensure that you only mail out copies and not originals. Also, don’t use staples to hold your documents. Instead, use paper clips.
Pay the Application Fee
The application fee for DACA is $495. Money orders, cashier’s checks, credit cards, and personal checks are all accepted by the USCIS. All payments should be addressed to the “US Department of Homeland Security.” You could also apply for a fee exemption if you need financial help. Various non-profit organizations offer financial assistance to DACA applicants.
Track Your Application
After sending out your application in the mail, you should receive a one-time e-notification from the USCIS if you fill in form G-1145. You should also get a paper receipt in the mail about 1-4 weeks after sending your application. You can also track the status of your DACA application online on the USCIS website.
You should get an appointment notification to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) to have your biometrics captured within four months of receiving your DACA receipt. Ensure you bring a valid government-issued picture ID to your appointment (e.g., your passport). Also, keep an eye out for a request for evidence (RFE). An RFE will be issued if any supporting paperwork is missing from your application. A biometrics exam is required of all candidates. If your application is successful, you will receive a valid work authorization card for two years.
Are you an immigrant wondering what is DACA? Need help with the DACA application? Get in contact with an immigration lawyer for assistance today!