DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS (DACA) IS CONTINUING AND EXPANDING
The Visa Law Center routinely represents individuals seeking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for the first time as well as DACA renewals. Both initial applications and renewals are currently being accepted without a deadline. And now, even more persons without lawful status will be eligible for DACA, as a result of executive actions announced by the Obama Administration on November 20, 2014. Notably, the age restriction for DACA applicants will be removed, allowing individuals born before June 15, 1981 to apply for DACA, provided they meet all other requirements. Moreover, continuous residence will now be required from January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007. In addition, the new executive order will extend the period of deferred action and employment authorization to three years from two years. It is anticipated that the implementation of these new initiatives will be completed by mid-February 2015.
The original initiative of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals was established through executive action on June 15, 2012. Under those guidelines, you can request 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;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education 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, significant misdemeanor,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The executive order establishing DACA directs Federal immigration agencies to exercise prosecutorial discretion with regard to successful applicants. DACA defers any removal (deportation) action for two years (with the option of DACA renewal at the end of the period) and DACA beneficiaries do not accrue unlawful presence during the period of DACA (but do not gain lawful status). They can apply for work authorization and a social security number, and may qualify for a number of state-level benefits, including driver’s licenses and access to state colleges and universities, depending on where they live.
DACA recipients residing in Georgia are currently eligible for state driver’s licenses. However, the state Board of Regents currently precludes DACA recipients from attending state colleges and universities with competitive admissions and paying in-state tuition rates. However, legal action challenging these preclusions is ongoing. Further, while DACA recipients cannot receive federal money for education, they do receive a social security number which allows them to complete a FAFSA, often necessary to apply for private scholarships and financial aid.
An estimated 1.8 million individuals are potentially DACA eligible, and 900,000 to 1.1 million of these are immediately eligible. Of those potentially but not immediately eligible, an estimated 392,000 are under age 15 and thus do not yet meet the age requirement to apply. An estimated 423,000 individuals do not meet the education requirement. Individuals who do not meet the education requirement can become DACA eligible by enrolling in either a high school or a GED program.
As of December 2013, some 638,054 persons had submitted DACA requests. Of these, 521,815 (81.78 percent) had been approved, while only 43,328 requests (6.79 percent) had been denied or rejected. The remaining 72,911 requests (11.43 percent) were pending. An estimated 260,000 to 460,000 individuals who are currently DACA eligible have not applied and a further 700,000 to 900,000 individuals may become eligible in the future. The current year (2014) represents the two-year mark and beginning of the renewal period for the first wave of individuals whose DACA requests were approved.
Dorminey & Cox, LLC / The Visa Law Center is ready to assist you with your request for DACA. If you meet the guideline requirements, it is not too late to file a first-time DACA application. If you already have DACA and it is nearing expiration, or has already expired, let us help you file your DACA renewal request.