DACA: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

On June 15, 2012, former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum announcing that DHS will offer deferred action for two years to certain young people who came to the United States as children and meet other eligibility criteria. Individuals who receive "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," also known as DACA, will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States for the duration of the grant. Individuals in removal proceedings, those with final orders or a voluntary departure order, and those who have never been in removal proceedings can affirmatively request deferred action from USCIS as long as they are not in immigration detention.

On June 5, 2014, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the process for individuals to renew their DACA enrollment. As of December 2015, more than 710,000 individuals have received DACA.

On November 20, 2014, President Obama directed his administration to take a series of executive actions on immigration, including an expansion of DACA and a new program known as "Deferred Action for Parental Accountability" (DAPA) (later renamed "Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents"). However, prior to the implementation of expanded DACA and DAPA, the state of Texas, along with 25 other states, filed suit in district court, challenging the President's authority to implement the new programs. A temporary injunction was imposed and upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and remains in place following the June 23, 2016, ruling of an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the lower court's judgment.

Criteria and Forms to Apply for DACA

According to USCIS FAQs, an individual who meets the following criteria may apply for DACA (AILA Doc. No. 12080365):

  1. Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the U.S. before reaching his/her 16th birthday;
  3. Has continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Was physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of application to USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Is currently in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces; and
  7. Has not been convicted of a felony, a "significant misdemeanor," three or more other misdemeanors, or does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

To request or renew DACA from USCIS, individuals must submit:

  1. Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  2. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (cannot be e-filed)
  3. Form I-765 WS, Worksheet
  4. Appropriate Filing Fee (unless qualify for fee exemption). See USCIS website for current fees.
  5. See AILA's Resources on USCIS DACA renewals (AILA Doc. No. 14060541.)

Official Agency Memos, Announcements and Statistics

AILA Press Statements and Correspondence

Guidance for Practitioners

Issue Papers and Talking Points

Additional Resources

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 12061552.