Yesterday, August 14, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released the final application process for those individuals who may be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We have reviewed the application forms and instructions for applying for DACA. Below is a list of the requirements needed to apply for DACA.
Basic Requirements for DACA
An individual may be considered for deferred action for childhood arrivals if he or she:
- 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;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status 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 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, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Under the age of 31 years old and at least 15 years of age.
The DACA application and instructions state that anyone under the age of 31 year old may apply for DACA. Additionally, an applicant must be at least 15 years old at the time of filing, unless the individual is in removal, then he or she may apply for DACA at any age.
Continuously Resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
The DACA application instructions state that an applicant must report all absences from the U.S. since June 15, 2007. A brief absence from the U.S. after June 15, 2007 may not disqualify an applicant for DACA depending on the length, reason, and if the absence was “brief, casual, and innocent before June 15, 2012.” The DACA application instructions also include examples possible reasons for travel, including attending a wedding or funeral. From this language, it is apparent that absences due to removal orders or voluntary departure orders or for illegal purposes (i.e., trafficking drugs, trafficking immigrants, etc.) will not be accepted as “brief, casual and innocent” absences from the U.S.
Additionally, the DACA application and instructions do not require proof of absences before June 15, 2007 and do not ask an applicant to list absences prior to June 15, 2007. Thus, it appears that any absence outside of the U.S. and reentry before June 15, 2007 will not disqualify an applicant for DACA.
Presence on June 15, 2012.
The DACA application also indicates that an applicant must show that he or she is one of the following:
- The applicant entered into the U.S. without inspection and was present in U.S. on June 15, 2012, or
- The applicant had status that expired before June 15, 2012 and was present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
High School Diploma, GED or Certificate of Completion
To apply for DACA, an applicant must be either:
- Attending high school,
- Graduated from high school and have a diploma or certificate of completion,
- Have obtained a GED.
An applicant must have obtained his or her GED, high school diploma or certificate of completion, or be current attending high school to apply. Those applicants who are preparing for the GED or who are in the process of taking the GED may not apply for DACA until they have completed their GED.
A juvenile offense is a crime committed by a person under the age of 16 years in Texas. Based on a reading of the DACA application instructions, it appears juvenile offenses will not disqualify an applicant from the DACA application process because juvenile offenses in Texas do not result in convictions. However, if an applicant is convicted of a juvenile offense, the applicant will be required to submit documentation of the dispositions to apply for DACA.
Documents Needed to Prove Identity
The DACA application instructions include a list of documents to submit. The instructions state that an applicant may submit “any of the following”, meaning an applicant is not required to submit all the documents included on the list. Thus, an applicant is not required to submit a passport to apply for DACA.
Other important factors to note:
Deadline to File:
There is no deadline to file. We currently believe the application process is an open registration, meaning once an individual turns 15 years old, he or she can apply for DACA.
For Those in Advanced Parole:
Do NOT submit advanced parole until your deferred action application has been approved.
If you are looking for more information on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, please see our website section on DACA. We will include up to date information on the DACA process as we receive it. If you are looking to meet with an attorney to discuss whether you are eligible for DACA, please call our office at (512) 399-2311 or click here.