Renewing Applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Common Questions and Answers
In April of 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published the new form required for either: 1) Filing a first-time application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or 2) Filing a renewal of DACA Status that was already approved.
Recipients of DACA status received two years of coverage under this program when their applications were approved. Thus, it is now time for many DACA recipients to begin the process of renewing their status.
This application and the required supporting documentation should be compiled carefully and submitted in a timely manner, as the expiration of DACA may cause immigration consequences if a renewal is not timely filed. The following list of questions and answers may be helpful to those thinking about applying for DACA for the first time and for those facing an upcoming expiration date on their employment authorization card and who are interested in renewing their status.
Is DACA the same as a green card, or U.S. Citizenship?
No, DACA status does not provide applicants with a green card or U.S. Citizenship. If approved, it does provide an employment authorization document of two-year duration. With this employment authorization, one is able to obtain a valid social security card authorized for work as well as a state ID. Most will be able to obtain a driver’s license (depending on state law and the person’s previous driving record).
What if I’ve never applied for DACA before? Can I file a renewal?
If you’ve never applied for Deferred Action, it is advisable to consult an attorney regarding your eligibility and the evidence that will be required for your application. If eligible, you would need to file an initial DACA application, which is filed using the same forms as the renewal DACA application but which will require different evidence than a renewal application.
What if my work permit is going to expire very soon?
Renewal applications must be received by USCIS BEFORE the expiration period of the DACA status. Renewal applications should ideally be filed about 4 months before the expiration date of the individual’s DACA status. USCIS has requested that applicants submit their application no more than 5 months before the status is set to expire, or they may reject the application. If your work permit is going to expire very soon, it is advisable to file your renewal application as soon as possible.
Oh no! What if my card already expired!?
After your DACA status expires, if you are over the age of 18, you may begin to accrue unlawful presence in the United States under the immigration laws. Once your work authorization expires, you are no longer authorized to work in the United States. This is why timing is very important in these DACA renewal cases. If your status expires but you’d like to apply again, you must apply as a new applicant, starting from the very beginning by submitting all required evidence as you did the first time you filed.
Do I still have to be in school in order to renew my DACA status?
It depends. Not all DACA applicants need to remain in school. If your education status has changed since first applying for DACA, you may be required to show that you have either continued with your education or completed school since your DACA was granted. For example, if after your DACA was granted you graduated from High School or you stopped attending GED classes, that would be considered a change in education status for which you may need to provide additional evidence. Each case is different and the requirements for each applicant are unique to each person. Make sure to follow the reapplication instructions very carefully and supply the proper evidence of your education with your application.
What if I travelled outside of the United States while I had DACA?
Travel is not permitted for people with DACA status without prior approval by the USCIS. If you travelled without permission, your application for renewal may not be approved. There are specific questions about this on the forms. If you travelled with permission (also called Advanced Parole), and if your travel was in accordance with the permission you received, you should remain eligible for renewal of DACA. You may be required to prove to USCIS that you have maintained your residence in the United States you obtained DACA status.
I heard about a way for people with DACA to travel. Can I visit family in another country?
DACA status does not include permission to leave the country. If you leave the United States, there is no legal way for you to reenter the country relying only on your DACA Status by itself. The only way to take an authorized trip with your DACA status is to request permission from USCIS before you leave, also called Advance Parole. There is a special application for this permission to travel, and it is only granted for applicants who have a compelling reason for travel such as the need to visit family due to a family emergency or illness, a work-related trip, or a school-related trip. This application is completely separate from your DACA application.
What needs to be included with a DACA renewal application?
Every case is different. USCIS requests the proper forms to be signed and filed with the proper filing fee. Additionally, certain renewal applicants may need to include new or updated documents. Make sure to discuss your case with your lawyer. USCIS has the authority to check all details on an application to make sure they are true and accurate.
The Law Offices of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates encourages all DACA recipients to keep close watch on the date of expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Status and make sure their renewal applications are filed on time. The best opportunity to remain in status is to file a renewal 150 to 120 days before the DACA status is set to expire.