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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)


What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) seeks to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of persons that pose a danger to national security or a risk to public security, DHS will exercise prosecutorial discretion as necessary to ensure that enforcement resources are not wasted on low-priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children and meet other key criteria. Individuals who demonstrate that they comply with the criteria below may request that deferred childhood arrival action (DACA) be granted for a duration of two years, subject to renewal for a period of two years, and may be authorized to work in the United States.

DACA may be requested by individuals with the following criteria

  1. As of June 15, 2012, they were under the age of 31;
  2. Migrated to the U.S. before their 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously lived in the United States, up to the present time, from June 15, 2007;
  4. Were physically present on June 15, 2012, in the United States, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred USCIS action;
  5. On June 15, 2012, they have no lawful status, meaning that:
  • You never had a legal immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or before June 15, 2012, or
  • Any legitimate immigration status or parole you acquired prior to June 15, 2012, expired by June 15, 2012
  1. Are currently in school, have graduated or earned a high school certificate of completion, have obtained a certificate of General Educational Development (GED) or are an honorably discharged member of the United States Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and
  2. Who have not been convicted of a felony, a major misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

What is deferred action?

Deferred action is a discretionary determination as an act of prosecutorial power to delay an individual's removal action. For purposes of potential inadmissibility based on an unlawful existence, during the time during which the deferred action takes effect, a person whose case has been deferred shall not be deemed to be unlawfully present. A person who has obtained deferred action is allowed to be present in the United States by DHS and is thus considered legally present by DHS during the time of deferred action. Deferred action, however does not give an individual legal status, nor does it excuse any prior or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.

Under current regulations, if he or she can show "an economic necessity for employment," a person whose case has been deferred is entitled to obtain employment authorization for the duration of deferred action. DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time, at the discretion of the agency.

What is DACA?

The Secretary of Homeland Security announced on June 15, 2012, that those persons who have come to the United States as children and comply with certain main guidelines will, subject to renewal, request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years and will then be eligible for work authorization.

For deferred action, individuals that can show by verifiable evidence that they comply with these requirements may be eligible. Determinations will be made under the DACA guidelines on a case-by-case basis.

Is there any difference between “deferred action” and DACA under this process?

DAA is one type of deferred action. For immigration purposes, the relief a person seeks under DACA is similar to the relief received by any individual who receives deferred action as an act of prosecutorial discretion.

If my case is deferred, am I in lawful status for the period of deferral?

No, you are not in lawful status when removal action is deferred. However, while deferred action does not confer legal immigration status, the Department of Homeland Security authorizes your duration of stay while the deferred action is in place and you are deemed to be legally present in the United States during that time for admissibility purposes. You are not accruing unlawful presence if you have been granted DACA. Persons granted DACA are permitted to reside in the U.S. as long as deferred action remains in place.

Can I renew my period of deferred action and employment authorization under DACA?

Yes. On a case-by-case basis, your request for employment authorization renewal will be considered. Approval will result in having employment authorization being granted for two additional years, the time period of the Deferred Action approval.