Requesting DACA is not easy. Your application will need to be detailed and thorough, and you should be sure that you meet the eligibility requirements first. If you have any questions, it is a good idea to refer directly to information on the USCIS website, as requirements are subject to change. As of September 2017, the Department of Homeland Security is no longer accepting new applications for DACA.
Note: As of September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security is no longer accepting new applications for DACA. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement on behalf of the Trump administration explaining that the DACA program would be winding down and setting a six-month deadline for Congress to act to preserve its protections. If you are an undocumented immigrant and do not currently have DACA status, you cannot apply for protection. Originally, individuals with DACA status that will expire on or before March 5, 2018, were given until October 5, 2017, to apply for renewal. However, a federal judge issued a court order on January 9, 2018 requiring the government to begin processing renewals again. Individuals who do not renew their DACA status will begin losing protections on March 5, 2018 or upon the resolution of a pending lawsuit. Barring any legislative changes, deportation proceedings for unprotected individuals will commence at that time.
Am I eligible for DACA?
The original eligibility requirements for DACA are as follows:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Arrived in the United States before your 16th birthday
- Have resided in the United States continuously between June 15, 2007 and the present date
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of your filing a deferred action request with USCIS
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- Are currently enrolled in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard
- Have never been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors
- Have never presented a threat to national security or public safety
Should I file for DACA if I am eligible?
While you can no longer file for DACA, the decision to file has always been up to the individual. Deferred action procedures were put in place to help young undocumented students, but the future of these procedures after March 2018 is still unknown. While it is possible that the DREAM Act will pass and new immigration laws will be implemented by March 2018, it is highly recommended that you discuss your specific case with an immigration attorney so that you can get advice tailored to your situation.
Can I apply for DACA without a lawyer?
As of September 5, 2017, you cannot apply for DACA if you are not already a recipient. Following a court order issued on January 9, 2018, however, individuals who had DACA status as of September 5, 2017, are permitted to apply for renewals. All individuals who had DACA as of September 5, 2017, whether they’ve lost their status or not, are also protected from deportation as a result of this order. This federal injunction expires when a pending DACA lawsuit is resolved.
Legal representation has never been necessary to apply, but the process is simpler, albeit more expensive, with the help of an immigration attorney. Beware of scams. Notarios are not qualified to give immigration advice, but many advertise legal services anyway. Ask your lawyer to provide a copy of his or her certifications or check with your state’s lawyer licensing database to find qualified help.
If you don’t have an attorney, refer carefully to resources provided by USCIS. E4FC has also published a step-by-step guide to applying for DACA.
What do I need to apply for DACA?
The Department of Homeland Security is not accepting new initial applications for DACA. If the program is reinstated in the future, it is likely that the application will be similar to how it was previously. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services required the following:
- Proof of your eligibility; even if you apply with an attorney, it will be your responsibility to collect the documents that show proof of your eligibility for DACA.
- Proof that you arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007
- Anything that places you in the country before that date—school transcripts, a lease, dated receipts—is useful.
- Identification documents
- A birth certificate and/or passport is used to prove your date of birth.
- A copy of your GED, diploma, school records, or military discharge paper and/or a letter from your current institution (on letterhead) confirming/stating you are currently enrolled and working toward a GED, high school diploma, or college/university degree
- A copy of all criminal or traffic case reports on record
- Be aware that certain traffic or criminal cases can cause you to be barred from the DACA program.
- Proof that you arrived in the United States before June 15, 2007
- Three completed forms; all forms are available on the USCIS website. Make a photocopy to keep for yourself before submitting the originals.
- I-821D: Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to apply for DACA
- I-765: Application for Employment Authorization
- I-765 worksheet to determine your economic need
- A $465 fee; this amount covers two fees:
- The $380 application fee
- The $85 biometric processing fee
- Very few fee waivers are available, but applicants who are foster children, homeless, or suffering from a chronic disability might be eligible. If you do not meet these fee waiver requirements, you may apply for a loan for the application fee through 21Progress, a nonprofit that helps young immigrants become community leaders. Other DACA loans might be available from credit unions in your region. For a full list, visit the online resource center at United We Dream.
Am I allowed to renew my DACA?
Originally, beneficiaries of these policies were able to renew their DACA indefinitely as long as they continued to meet eligibility requirements. Since DACA expires every two years, USCIS recommended that individuals renew their DACA between 150 and 120 days before the expiration date.
When the Trump Administration announced the ending of DACA in September 2017, they made it clear that the Department of Homeland Security would only process renewal requests for individuals whose DACA status expires between September 5, 2017, and March 5, 2018, if the renewal request was submitted by October 5, 2017; all renewals received before September 5, 2017, were processed normally. A court order issued on January 9, 2018, now requires the government to process all DACA renewals provided an individual held DACA status on September 5, 2017. You can find out more information about renewals here.
What is the future of the DACA program?
DACA does not offer a permanent immigration solution to any beneficiary, but it currently offers benefits to some eligible immigrants who file and renew their applications every two years. No new applications are being processed at this time, but a federal judge just ordered the government to process renewals for individuals who had DACA status on September 5, 2017.
Congress has been granted six months (until March 5, 2018) to act to preserve DACA or come up with an alternative. If Congress cannot pass a law within that window, individuals will start losing their protected status at that time or upon the resolution of a pending lawsuit.
Page last updated: 01/2018
Deferred Action Procedures
Obstacles for Undocumented Students
Who Are Undocumented Students?
College Planning Guide for Undocumented Students
Your Right to Higher Public Education by State
Evaluating Your Best Options for College
Financial Aid for Undocumented Students
Employment Opportunities for Undocumented Students
Continued Support for Undocumented College Students