On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Deferred action means that, even though the individual is undocumented and subject to deportation, the government agrees to “defer” any actions to remove them. For those who are granted DACA, they receive a two year deferral of deportation, and are able to apply for work authorization, a social security number, and in most states, a driver's license. In essence, even though deferred action does not provide a pathway to getting lawful permanent resident status (a green card) or citizenship, it allows undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the U.S.
On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced an expansion of the DACA program, which is not yet in effect. Previously, to be eligible for DACA, a person must have been born after June 15, 1981 and have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007. Under the new expansion, more people can qualify. Although applicants must have arrived in the United States before they were sixteen years old, there is no upper age cap. In addition, the new residency requirement is to have lived in the United States since January 1, 2010. Finally, DACA will be valid for three years, instead of two. Until these changes take effect, those eligible for the original version of the DACA program can continue to apply for DACA or renew their applications.
For more information about the DACA program and to access the application forms, go to www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca.