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DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

What is DACA?

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that certain immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. as children would be allowed to temporarily remain in the U.S. with work authorization. The program, called Deferred Action for Certain Childhood Arrivals or “DACA”, does not grant immigration status and does not provide a pathway to citizenship. It is a temporary authorization to remain in the U.S. with work authorization. To be eligible for deferred action under the DACA program, you must:

  • Have entered the U.S. before the age of 16.
  • Have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012.
  • Have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007 until the present.
  • Have been physically present  in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time you apply.
  • Have had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
  • Be currently in school, or have graduated from high school or have earned a certificate of completion of high school or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or military.
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, certain significant misdemeanors (including a single DUI), or three or more misdemeanors of any kind.

DACA, like many immigration processes, is more complicated than it appears at first glance. Although an applicant is eligible for DACA, information provided on the application can be used to deny future immigration applications. It is important that an applicant receives a comprehensive evaluation of his or her immigration case before filing DACA or any immigration application.

Important Note: On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the DACA program and rejected Trump’s administration’s 2017 attempt to terminate the program. The Supreme Court’s decision serves to fully reinstate the DACA program following the 2012 criteria, allowing for first-time DACA requests. While USCIS is supposed to be accepting DACA renewal applications, USCIS has yet to issue guidance for initial DACA requests consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Latest UPDATE: On July 17, 2020, US District Court for the District of Maryland in Casa de Maryland, et al. v. DHS, et.al. ordered USCIS to restore its DACA policy to its pre-September 5, 2017 status. It’s unclear at this point if this case only applies to those cases arising from the Fourth Circuit where the District Court of Maryland lies, however, for those who are eligible for DACA should consult with an immigration attorney immediately to assess the current legal state of play.

Contact one of our DACA attorneys at Becker & Lee LLP to learn more.