The Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
A. What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?
You may request consideration of DACA if you:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that:
- You never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or
- Any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Q1: What is deferred action?
A1: Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer a removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. For purposes of future inadmissibility based upon unlawful presence, an individual whose case has been deferred is not considered to be unlawfully present during the period in which deferred action is in effect. An individual who has received deferred action is authorized by DHS to be present in the United States, and is therefore considered by DHS to be lawfully present during the period deferred action is in effect. However, deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual, nor does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.
Under existing regulations, an individual whose case has been deferred is eligible to receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action, provided he or she can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.” DHS can terminate or renew deferred action at any time, at the agency’s discretion.
Q2: What is DACA?
A2: On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of three years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization.
Individuals who can demonstrate through verifiable documentation that they meet these guidelines will be considered for deferred action. Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis under the DACA guidelines.
Q3: Is there any difference between “deferred action” and DACA under this process?
A3: DACA is one form of deferred action. The relief an individual receives under DACA is identical for immigration purposes to the relief obtained by any person who receives deferred action as an act of prosecutorial discretion.
Q4: If my removal is deferred under the consideration of DACA, am I eligible for employment authorization?
A4: Yes. Under existing regulations, if your case is deferred, you may obtain employment authorization from USCIS provided you can demonstrate an economic necessity for employment.
Q5: If my case is deferred, am I in lawful status for the period of deferral?
A5: No. Although action on your case has been deferred and you do not accrue unlawful presence (for admissibility purposes) during the period of deferred action, deferred action does not confer any lawful status.
The fact that you are not accruing unlawful presence does not change whether you are in lawful status while you remain in the United States. However, although deferred action does not confer a lawful immigration status, your period of stay is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security while your deferred action is in effect and, for admissibility purposes, you are considered to be lawfully present in the United States during that time. Individuals granted deferred action are not precluded by federal law from establishing domicile in the U.S.
Apart from the immigration laws, “lawful presence,” “lawful status” and similar terms are used in various other federal and state laws. For information on how those laws affect individuals who receive a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion under DACA, please contact the appropriate federal, state or local authorities.
Q6: Can I renew my period of deferred action and employment authorization under DACA?
A6: Yes. You may request consideration for a renewal of your DACA. Your request for a renewal will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If USCIS renews its exercise of discretion under DACA for your case, you will receive deferred action for another three years, and if you demonstrate an economic necessity for employment, you may receive employment authorization throughout that period.