What Is DACA? How Do I Apply?

For years, children who came to the United States with their parents illegally didn’t have any protection to allow them to become United States citizens. Even though the U.S. is the only country most of these children knew, they weren’t protected. Today, these children can rely on DACA to help them find work in the United States. If you’re asking yourself, “What is DACA“? read on. You can get the information you need below.

What Is DACA?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and is a policy that helps the children of undocumented parents who come to the United States illegally by allowing them to get a driver’s license, social security card, and a work permit. The policy also provides temporary relief from deportation for young, undocumented immigrants. DACA isn’t a guarantee of U.S. citizenship or a pathway to citizenship, but it allows eligible immigrants to remain in the country longer and work towards becoming a citizen.

DACA was established under former President Obama when the Development, Relied, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) failed to pass congress. The initial program protected young illegal immigrants from being deported and allowed them to obtain work permits for two years which can be renewed.

Who Is Eligible For DACA?

According to the American Immigration Council, there were 590,070 active DACA recipients as of June 30, 2021, and are known as DREAMers. If you are eligible for DACA, you have to meet certain requirements, including:

  • You must have entered the United States unlawfully before your 16th
  • You have continuously lived in the United States since June 15, 2007.
  • You were born on June 16, 1981, or after.
  • You must have been in the United States on June 15, 2012, and in the U.S. when you filed for DACA.
  • You don’t have a serious misdemeanor or three or more minor misdemeanor charges or a felony charge.
  • You are in school, graduated from high school, received a GED, or have been discharged from the armed forces.

If you meet the requirements, you can apply for DACA.

DACA

Applying For DACA

According to Boundless, you have to fill out an I-821D form and an I-765 form to begin the DACA process, along with a payment of $495. Next, you’ll need to schedule and attend a biometrics appointment with your local USCIS Application Support Center. If you don’t understand the form or have an issue with the application process, an immigration lawyer can help.

You will also need documents to back up your claims, including:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof you came to the United States before you turned 16.
  • Proof of residency before the age of 16
  • Proof of residency since June 2007.
  • Documents to show the times you left the U.S. since 2007.
  • Proof you were living in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
  • Proof of current education, high school diploma, GED, military service, or veteran status.
  • Your criminal record, if you have one.

Renewing DACA

You will need to renew your DACA status every two years to remain in the United States. It’s recommended that you apply to renew your status 120 to 150 days before your current DACA expires to ensure your status remains legal.

If you’re a DREAMer and have been in the United States since you were young and you don’t want to leave, DACA is an option. If you need help understanding how the application process works or the necessary documentation, an immigration lawyer can walk you through the entire process, getting you a little closer to your dream of becoming a United States citizen.With the right help and direction, there’s a good chance your application will be approved.