You are eligible to apply for DACA if you:
As a DACA recipient, you will have the right to:
Another benefit of having DACA, if you are under 18, is that you will not accrue what is called “unlawful presence” that could make it more difficult for you to obtain other forms of immigration relief in the future.
Even once you get DACA, you unfortunately do NOT have the right to:
Some states like California, however, offer in-state tuition to students who went to high school in California. Click here for information about other forms of financial aid for undocumented students.
Unless you have rare foreign language expertise or specialized health care training.
Another limitation of DACA is that it is not a permanent status and it does not guarantee that you will not be removed from the U.S. If, for example, you are arrested for a serious crime or if the program ends in the future. Also keep in mind that because DACA was created through an executive action by President Obama, rather than the passing of a law, DACA could change or even end when a new president comes into office in January 2017.
For an applicant without any criminal or juvenile history, there are currently no major risks in applying for DACA. Your DACA application will be sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS), which is a separate branch of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) from Immigration Customs and Enforcement (“ICE”). ICE is the enforcement branch of DHS, which does prosecute and sometimes deport undocumented individuals. The job of USCIS, on the other hand, is to process applications for visas, green cards, and citizenship. USCIS does not deport people. USCIS has said that it will only share the information provided in a DACA application with ICE if it determines that the applicant poses a threat to national security or public safety. This does not apply to most DACA applicants, but if you have any kind of criminal or juvenile background, you should consult with an attorney before applying for DACA.
The only other risk of applying for DACA is that your application could be denied, and the application fee of $495 would not be refunded. There is no way to appeal a denial of a DACA application.
Maybe. If you are in this situation, you should talk to a lawyer before applying for DACA. Having an arrest by itself does not disqualify you from receiving DACA. You will, however, have to disclose the arrest on your DACA application and explain what happened. If you were arrested as a juvenile (under 18) and adjudicated (found guilty) of any offense, you are still eligible for DACA. Only people who have been convicted as an adult of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors are ineligible for DACA. Since it can be complicated to figure out if any of these apply to you, you should speak with an attorney if you’ve had any kind of contact with the police at all.
Any kind of criminal activity, adult or juvenile, can affect your DACA application even if it does not make you ineligible. This is because DACA is a discretionary form of relief, meaning that the immigration office will weigh all of the positive factors in your case against any negative factors to decide whether to give you DACA. So, even if you qualify for DACA, your application could still be denied if you have significant negative factors in your case. Specifically, you will not be granted DACA if the immigration office determines that you pose a threat to national security or public safety. An attorney can help you weigh the strengths and weaknesses in your case to decide whether it is a good idea for you to apply.
The total cost of applying for DACA is $495. This amount is made up of a $410 fee to file the DACA application and an $85 fee to complete your biometrics appointment (when Immigration takes your fingerprints and photograph). Both Mission Asset Fund and the Self-Help Credit Union provide loans to help cover the cost of the DACA application.
To apply for DACA, you will need to collect documents proving that you meet each of the requirements listed above. Usually the most time consuming part of the process is collecting documentation proving that you have been in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007. Your attorney can help you figure out which documents you need to submit with your application, but getting your school records from 2007 to now is a good start. The next step is to complete the DACA application forms and send them to Immigration with the application fee and two passport photos. Shortly after submitting your application, you will receive a receipt notice and then a notice to attend a biometrics appointment, at which Immigration will take your fingerprints and photograph. Within about six months after submitting your application, you should receive a response.
Sometimes, before receiving a final answer, Immigration will send a “Request for Evidence” (“RFE”), asking you to send in additional evidence to show that you qualify for DACA.
Your employment authorization document (“EAD”), also known as a work permit, shows the dates that your DACA is valid. We recommend that you contact LSC to begin the renewal process at least six months before your DACA will expire, and send your application at least four months before the expiration date. The renewal process is much simpler than the initial application, as it does not require you to submit proof of continuous presence or any of the other evidence you submitted with your original application. If your DACA is getting close to expiring, contact LSC today for help with your renewal application.
Click here for a list of DACA Resources