Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA and considered part of the DREAM Act, is a discretionary immigration benefit enacted on June 15, 2012 by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and President Barack Obama.
* If you are looking on information on how to renew your current period of Deferred Action (DACA), please read our article on DACA renewals. *
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
The DACA program was announced to provide immigration benefits to certain young people who were brought to the United States as minors. If these individuals meet several requirements (discussed below) and do not pose a risk to the national security of the U.S. or to the public safety, they will be considered for these benefits. Those who qualify for DACA may receive relief from deportation and may obtain lawful status to live and work in the United States. This relief is for a temporary period of two years, but the status can be renewed at the end of the two year period. If you need assistance in assessing if DACA is the right program for you, please contact our immigration attorneys now for a FREE consultation.
What are the requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals under the DREAM Act?
Under Homeland Security’s directive, individuals who can demonstrate that they meet certain criteria will be eligible for this exercise of discretion and relief from deportation, on a case by case basis. To be eligible, you must:
- Have entered the United States before the age of 16;
- Have continuously lived in the United States for at least 5 years prior to June 2012 and have been present in the United States since June 2012;
- Be currently enrolled in school or have graduated from high school, obtained a G.E.D. or are honorably discharged veterans of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States;
- Not have been convicted of any felony offenses, significant misdemeanor offense, or otherwise post a threat to national security or public safety;
- Must not be above the age of thirty when applying.
Only those applicants who can prove through valid documentation that they can meet the above criteria will be eligible to apply for the Dream Act. If an applicant is not in the United States or cannot prove that they have been present in the United States for 5 years prior to June 2012 they will not be eligible. If you need assistance in applying for DACA benefits, please contact us now.
Do eligible recipients for DACA receive a U.S. green card or U.S. citizenship?
No. This immigration benefit saves recipients from deportation or removal, and allows them to live and work legally. Unfortunately, this benefit is only a matter of discretion of the Department of Homeland Security and does not grant lawful immigration status, permanent residency, or a pathway to citizenship.
How do I apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
You must meet all of the USCIS requirements above. Additionally, applicants for DACA will need to submit a properly completed application called Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, as well as submit a request for Employment Authorization. Every applicant must also have biometric data collected to have your fingerprints taken for the background check.
May I travel outside of the United States after being granted Deferred Action?
Beneficiaries of Homeland Security’s discretionary Dream Act will be eligible to travel outside of the United States only if they first apply for and obtain a special travel document known as an Advance Parole document. For more information on DACA and traveling outside of the United States, visit our webpage on DACA frequently asked questions.
How long does the Deferred Action benefit last?
Under the Childhood Arrivals initiative, Deferred Action will be granted for a two-year period, after which the recipient may request a renewal for another two-year period. According to the Department of Homeland Security, individuals will be eligible for future renewals of Deferred Action so long as they were under age 31 on June 15, 2012.
Will recipients of Deferred Action be eligible for Driver Licenses and other state benefits?
While deferred action confers temporary permission to remain in the country, it does not necessarily mean that recipients will be eligible for State Driver Licenses, reduced tuition, or other state benefits. The answer may depend on the laws of each individual State, and additional information on these issues is expected to be released as recipients of deferred action attempt to access state services. In California, Deferred Action recipients are eligible to receive most, if not all, State benefits such as Driver Licenses and reduced tuition. Contact our Los Angeles immigration attorney now for a FREE consultation to see whether your State offers benefits for DACA recipients.