What is DACA?
The relief afforded under the immigration process known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is temporary. DACA provides a renewable two-year deferred action protection from deportation as well as employment authorization, but it must be renewed in order for the recipient to stay protected and remain in the United States.
DACA allows certain people, who are often called Dreamers, who came to the United States as children to remain temporarily in the United States if they meet certain eligibility criteria. In order to be eligible for DACA, an individual must show that they
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday
- Have continuously resided, and continue to reside, in the United States since June 15, 2007
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012
- Did not have a lawful immigration status or expired lawful status on or before June 15, 2012
- Are currently in school, have graduated high school or obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or other Armed Forces of the United States
- Have never been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor, have not had three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
Other specific criteria can be found at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website or by contacting us for more information about eligibility.
What’s the current legal status of DACA?
DACA continues to undergo court battles, which can be confusing for those who believe they may qualify for protections or who have already been granted relief in the past under DACA. Currently, USCIS is
- Accepting first-time requests for deferred action;
- Accepting DACA renewal requests;
- Accepting applications for advance parole documents (which allow individuals granted DACA to travel outside the U.S. under particular circumstances);
- Extending previous one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years; and
- Extending previous one-year employment authorization documents under DACA to two years.
While DACA remains a temporary relief program, members of Congress continue to introduce bills that would provide eligible current, former, and future undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship through a three-step process.
- Conditional permanent residence: When the individual came to the U.S. as a child and meets other criteria demonstrating they are not a threat to the U.S., they may qualify for this first step in the process toward citizenship.
- Lawful permanent residence: With this step, those with conditional permanent residence would be able to receive their “green card,” or permanent resident status, after satisfying certain conditions.
- Naturalization: After five years of holding lawful permanent resident status, individuals would be able to apply for naturalization through the regular naturalization process.
When and how often should DACA be renewed?
Generally, DACA expires every two years, and the renewal process should begin at least 120 to 150 days before the expiration of your DACA relief in order to ensure that you are not left unprotected at any time. The expiration date can be found on your current I-797 DACA approval notice and on your Employment Authorization Notice.
In order to qualify for renewal, you will need to make sure that you
- Did not leave the U.S. on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without approved advance parole
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since your most recent DACA request was approved
- Have not become ineligible for DACA through criminal convictions since your most recent DACA was approved
If your DACA has expired but you still want to file for renewal, it is still possible. If it has been less than one year since your most recent protection expired, you will submit your forms as a renewal. However, if it has been more than one year since your DACA expired, you will need to file a new request altogether.
What’s the process to renew DACA?
If you are renewing your current DACA, you will need to ensure that you
- File on time. Submit your documents at least 120 to 150 days before your current DACA expires to allow USCIS time to process your renewal.
- Submit all forms and fees. If you do not submit your forms correctly or neglect to pay your $495 filing fee, your renewal will likely be rejected.
- Submit any new documents. If you have any new criminal history since your last DACA was approved, you must submit documentation with your renewal. You do not need to submit documentation of minor traffic violations — such as driving without a license — unless the offenses were alcohol- or drug-related.
- Watch for requests from USCIS. You may receive a Request for Evidence if USCIS needs additional documentation to approve your renewal. Not responding to these requests in time could delay or prevent your renewal from being approved.
- Submit an address change. If you have had an address change since your last DACA was approved, you will also need to inform USCIS online at or by calling 1-800-375-5283.
Some additional documentation, such as proof of advance parole if you traveled outside the United States, may need to be submitted to USCIS. An immigration attorney can help you determine if you should submit these with your renewal documents or wait for any request for evidence.
In order to apply for renewal, you must submit the following to USCIS:
- Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- Form I-765 Worksheet
- $495 filing fee for the I-765 form, unless you qualify for a fee exemption
You may also submit Form G-1145 to receive a text message or email when your application is accepted, but you will not be able to file online.
The process for filing for DACA renewal can be intimidating, especially for individuals who are concerned that they may have become ineligible for some reason since their last DACA was approved. If you have questions or need support, we can help you through the process of filing your DACA renewal in Austin. Ready to get started? Contact Farmer Law today!