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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

On June 15, 2012, President Obama created a new policy calling for deferred action for certain undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children. Applications under the program which is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) began on August 15, 2012.

What does “deferred action” mean?

Deferred action is a discretionary, limited immigration benefit by DHS. It can be granted to individuals who are in removal proceedings, who have final orders of removal, or who have never been in removal proceedings. Individuals who have deferred action status can apply for employment authorization and are in the U.S. under color of law. However, there is no direct path from deferred action to lawful permanent residence or to citizenship.  And, it can be revoked at any time.

Who is eligible for DACA relief?

Individuals who meet the following criteria can apply for deferred action for childhood arrivals:

  • Are under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;

  • Came to the U.S. while under the age of 16;

  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present. (For purposes of calculating this five year period, brief and innocent absences from the United States for humanitarian reasons will not be included);

  • Entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012;

  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;

  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind; and

  • Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Applicants will have to provide documentary evidence of the above criteria. In addition, every applicant must complete and pass a biographic and biometric background check.

How old do you have to be to apply for deferred action?

In general an applicant must be at least 15 years of age at the time they apply. The exception to this rule is if the applicant is in removal proceedings, has a final order of removal or has an order of voluntary departure: then, they can seek DACA even if they are below the age of 15.

If the applicant was 31 years of age or older as of June 15, 2012 they are not eligible for DACA.




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