Are you contemplating applying for DACA? Not sure if you’re eligible? Are you looking to renew? This page is dedicated to housing our most up-to-date free community tools you can download, share, watch, and print to get informed on eligibility, requirements, application processes, and more as you prepare to submit an application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
IMPORTANT DACA UPDATE (JULY 2021):
On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the DACA program is unlawful. What does this decision mean for DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals?
Those with approved DACA cases remain valid. People who currently have DACA keep their DACA protection and work permit.
DACA renewals continue. People who have DACA now or had DACA in the past are still eligible to renew their case. Pending renewal applications will be processed. Talk to a legal service provider about renewing.
First time DACA applications are on hold. No new DACA application will be approved after July 16, 2021. The decision blocks USCIS from approving any new DACA case. Therefore anyone with a pending, first-time DACA application will not be granted at this time.
Here is a list of frequently asked questions for practitioners that will be updated as more information becomes available.
What does the decision mean for persons who currently have DACA?
The judge temporarily stayed his decision to remand the DACA policy to DHS as it relates to persons who obtained DACA on or before July 16, 2021. This means that persons who currently have DACA can continue to submit renewal requests.
Can you submit requests for persons whose DACA have expired?
According to the decision, DHS is only prevented from approving new DACA requests after July 16, 2021. As such, persons who previously had obtained DACA on or before July 16, 2021, but whose status have expired should continue submitting requests. This should be true even if it has been more than a year since a person’s DACA expired (i.e., initial DACA requests), though hopefully USCIS will clarify this in the upcoming weeks.
Can DACA recipients continue to request Advance Parole?
Yes. USCIS has clarified that it will continue to approve Advance Parole requests for persons who currently have DACA and meet all other requirements. That being said, it is important to discuss the risks associated with upcoming changes to the DACA policy before deciding to travel outside the United States. See our practice advisory Requesting Advance Parole and Traveling Outside the United States Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for more information on eligibility for Advance Parole.
What happens to DACA recipients who are currently outside of the country on Advance Parole?
Persons who currently have an unexpired DACA and are outside of the country on Advance Parole should be able to return safely to the United States. Further changes to the DACA policy may impact the ability to travel on Advance Parole in the future.
When should DACA recipients submit their renewal requests?
Persons should continue to submit their DACA renewals 120 to 150 days before their DACA and employment authorization expire.
What is happening to the backlogs of DACA renewal requests? Is there a way to expedite DACA renewals?
There have been recent reports of a backlog of requests for DACA renewals that have been pending for months and are yet to be approved. USCIS recently stated that they have assigned additional staff to ensure DACA requests are processed in a timely manner.
Although there is no formal way to expedite DACA renewal requests, some applicants whose cases are outside normal processing times have sought help from the USCIS Customer Service, congressional members in their state or district, raising the case to USCIS Ombudsman’s Office, gathering signatures online community petitions, and obtaining media coverage.
What happens if persons requested DACA for the first time, but USCIS has not approved them?
Due to the judge’s order, USCIS will not approve any initial DACA requests. While the court order prohibits USCIS from approving new DACA requests from persons who never had DACA on or before July 16. 2021, it does not prohibit USCIS from accepting them. In fact, USCIS has issued a statement saying they will continue accepting both initial and renewal requests. It is our understanding that USCIS will hold the pending initial DACA requests even if USCIS cannot approve them. It is unclear how USCIS will handle these requests, but they should not deny nor approve any new DACA requests until further notice.
What if persons received an appointment for biometrics?
Receiving a biometrics appointment is just one step in the adjudication process for DACA requests and is required by USCIS to conduct a background check and assess eligibility for DACA. Receiving or completing a biometrics appointment does not grant DACA or any protections given under the DACA policy.
USCIS has started to issue cancellation notices for first-time DACA applicants who have upcoming biometrics appointments. If someone received this cancellation notice, it means they do not have to go to the Application Support Center to complete their biometrics on the date scheduled.
However, if someone has an upcoming biometrics appointment, but has not received a cancellation notice, it might be advisable to call ahead of time to see if they should still attend because there is a possibility the person will be informed that the appointment has been cancelled at the Application Support Center. Even though the court order prohibits USCIS from granting any new DACA request, it might not prohibit them from accepting DACA requesters biometrics. We will provide an update as we learn more about what will happen with pending initial DACA requests.
How does an applicant know if their first-time DACA request was approved or not?
There is a lot of confusion around when a person’s DACA request is approved. It is important to remember that a DACA request is not granted by the receipt notice or biometrics notice or by having attended a biometrics appointment. A DACA request is only granted when USCIS sends a notice informing the individual that they have been approved for DACA. This means that persons who only received a receipt notice and/or a biometrics notice have not been approved. For now, the court order prevents USCIS from approving any pending initial DACA requests.
What happens to the information submitted when requesting DACA if those cases are now on hold? Will persons be at risk of arrest or deportation?
DHS has stated that DACA requestors are not a priority for deportation or enforcement. Additionally, the court’s order states that the decision should not require DHS to take action against DACA requestors. While it is currently not clear what will happen with these pending initial DACA requests, current policy prevents DHS from sharing any of the information provided in them with other entities within DHS, like ICE except in limited circumstances.
What happens to the application fees submitted with first-time DACA requests?
Because USCIS charges a fee to adjudicate a case, and these DACA requests are not being adjudicated, USCIS should not keep the fees for any DACA requests that they cannot adjudicate. But since the DACA policy is essentially paused for persons who have never had DACA on or before July 16, 2021, it is unclear when and how USCIS will return fees (they might not do so until there is more clarity on what will happen with the DACA policy as it pertains to initial requests).
Please continue to remain informed on how the litigation proceeds as well as how USCIS responds to this court order to learn more about how fees will be handled for pending first-time DACA requests. We will also update this FAQ as we learn more.
Should persons respond to USCIS’ Request for Evidence (RFE)?
Individuals should continue to respond to any RFEs. A DACA request could be denied if an individual fails to timely respond to an RFE. Even though USCIS is currently not allowed to grant any new requests for DACA, it is best to provide a timely response to any in the event that they can be approved in the future.
Should eligible persons still request DACA for the first time if they never had it before?
The court order permits USCIS to accept initial requests for DACA, but it prohibits them from granting these requests. At the moment, USCIS has not explained what it will do with DACA initial requests they received prior to the court’s order or receive in the future. Therefore, it is not clear if there is any advantage to submitting an initial DACA request right now. In the meantime, persons should continue to be screened for DACA eligibility and other forms of relief in case there are additional developments in the coming weeks and months.
As always, the best route is to speak with a trusted legal service provider if you are looking to submit any application to USCIS. This does not just help ensure that your application packet and supporting evidence are reviewed by an expert but it also helps screen you for other forms of immigration relief. In one recent study, roughly 1 in 5 DACA-eligible screenings uncovered other, more permanent paths for those being assessed that they would have otherwise not known about. If you would like to identify a provider in your area, head to https://bit.ly/ianimmhelp to access Immigration Advocates Network’s National Legal Services Directory.
Note: Are you enrolled at a California State University or California Community College? Your campus may currently be offering free immigration legal services thanks to generous funding by the California Department of Social Services. Check in with your campus to find out more!
Details for California State University legal services partners can be found here.
Details for California Community Colleges legal services partners can be found here.
With USCIS now accepting requests for DACA from individuals who have never had DACA, it's VITAL that we understand how to put our best foot forward when compiling evidence documents and application forms. In this video Staff Attorney Veronica Garcia and Legal Outreach Coordinator Abraham Bedoy walk through everything you need to know to prepare to submit your initial application packet!
As new applicants begin to set their sights on initial DACA requests, there are several questions worth asking and steps worth taking to prepare productively. This guide is designed to walk community members through eligibility and process for submitting an initial application for deferred action and employment authorization.
The ILRC’s DACA Team has put together a page-by-page form guide for anyone looking to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) as an initial request. This annotated community resource provides insights into many of the questions asked of recipients when completing the forms needed to make up a complete application packet (forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS). As stated in the document, it is important that any individual completing their forms ensures that they are using the most up-to-date forms USCIS offers – otherwise they will reject your submission.
As always, the ILRC strongly recommends working with a trusted legal service provider to compile and submit a request for DACA, especially as an initial applicant. To identify a provider in your area, head to https://bit.ly/ianimmhelp.
This video details how to complete a DACA renewal application packet by walking through the various forms’ questions to highlight what they mean and focus on areas worth paying close attention to. As always, we highly encourage applicants to seek a consultation with a trusted legal service provider before submitting their packets. Namely this is so applicants can ensure they are submitting their information as accurately as possible and addressing the dimensions of their specific case that may or may not allow them to be eligible for other forms of immigration relief. In this one-hour walkthrough video, the ILRC’s Legal Outreach Coordinator, Abraham Bedoy, dives deep into each form required for a renewal so those taking on their own application packet (forms: I-821D, I-765, I-765WS, G-1145) can follow along to double-check their entries.
Persons are barred from receiving or renewing DACA if they have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. DACA applicants who have been arrested or convicted of a crime may still be eligible, but they should first obtain their criminal records and take them to an expert immigration practitioner to obtain legal advice about their eligibility and potential risks of applying. This resource provides persons applying for DACA with instructions about what criminal records they need for their application and how they can find them.
Applicants must meet certain requirements to be eligible for DACA, including showing that they have been continuously residing in the United States since June 15, 20071. Acquiring documents to use as evidence to prove the continuous residence requirement can be tedious. As such, this resource focuses on the types of evidence initial DACA applicants can gather to prove continuous residence and where applicants can get this evidence.