Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
On August 15, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from those who entered the United States at a young age and have no immigration status. The potential candidates for Deferred Action under this program are sometimes referred to as “DREAMers” named after the proposed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act that has been pending in Congress for many years but never passed by both the House and the Senate.
In granting Deferred Action, as the term implies, the government is formally deciding not to take adverse action against an individual who is in the United States without authorization on humanitarian grounds or as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. In this case, the government is choosing to grant Deferred Action to those who entered the United States as children. If a person is granted Deferred Action, he/she will be provided an employment authorization card, which then can be used to obtain a social security number and possibly a state driver’s license.
To qualify for Deferred Action, according to USCIS applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching their 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 their 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.
Regarding item # 6, “currently in school,” the USCIS has defined it to mean that the applicant is currently enrolled in a
- a public or private elementary school, junior high or middle school, high school, or secondary school;
- an education, literacy, or career training program (including vocational training) that is designed to lead to placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment and where you are working toward such placement; or
- an education program assisting students either in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under state law (including a certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or alternate award), or in passing a General Educational Development (GED) exam or other equivalent state-authorized exam.
These criteria seem simple enough; however, a potential applicant should always consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine whether applying for Deferred Action is in their best interest. Many of the terms used in the criteria and the Forms I-821D and I-765 have legal significance and legal consequences that are not well understood. In addition, the application must be properly supported with evidence of eligibility. Since the DACA program has been enacted, Valverde & Rowell has prepared and filed many successful DACA applications. For a limited time, Valverde and Rowell is offering free consultations to potential Deferred Action candidates. Contact an immigration attorney or call us now at (757) 422-8472 to determine whether Deferred Action (DACA) makes sense for you.
Check out our immigration law practice area for more information on family visas; work, student and/or visitor visas; asylum, as well as removal and detention. For immigration news and related updates, follow us on our immigration blog.
Bradford A. MillerAssociate at Valverde & Rowell, P.C.
Hugo Raul ValverdePartner at Valverde & Rowell, P.C.
R. Barry RowellPartner at Valverde & Rowell, P.C.
Andrew J. ReigelAssociate at Valverde & Rowell, P.C.