Today, the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the much-anticipated renewal process for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The process is effective immediately, which is important, because the first batch of DACA recipients will have their statuses expire in September of 2014. More details on the renewal process, and the program in general, can be found on the USCIS DACA FAQ website.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) advises DACA recipients to file renewal applications 120 days (4 months) before the expiration dates of their current statuses. It is crucial that DACA recipients file for renewal as soon as possible within the 4-month window, because any gap between expiration and renewal could have negative immigration consequences. For example, if a person is 18 or older, he will begin to accumulate unlawful presence as soon as his status expires, a potentially serious outcome. Likewise, if his status lapses, he will no longer be work authorized, which could also lead to problems in the future if he works. IMPORTANT: filing a renewal application will not prevent a gap in DACA status; instead, the renewal application must actually be approved, and this is why it is so important to apply for renewal early.
To be eligible to renew her status, a DACA recipient must meet the following requirements:
- She did not depart the United States on or after August 15, 2012, without first being granted advance parole.
- She continuously resided in the United States since filing her first application for deferred action (DACA).
- She has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanor crimes.
- And, she does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Here is the application process:
- Complete the new DACA application form, USCIS Form I-821D.
- Complete Form I-765, the application for work authorization.
- Complete Form I-765W, the worksheet that goes along with Form I-765.
- Pay the filing and biometrics (background check) fees, which together total $465.
If you have DACA now, and you experienced any complications with your initial application, or if you have since had any encounters with the law or immigration authorities, then you definitely need to consult an immigration attorney before applying to renew your status. The same is true if you traveled without receiving advance parole or experienced any complication traveling outside the U.S. after receiving advance parole. Please be careful, because the government is conducting background checks as part of the renewal process.
As always, stay away from “notarios,” forms preparers, tax advisors, paralegals not practicing under the supervision of an attorney, or anyone else who is not a licensed attorney. If you need help preparing your application or need legal advice, please, please, consult an attorney specializing in immigration law.