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On June 12, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented youth who had come to the United States.. These youths who qualify under these conditions may be permitted to stay in the U.S. temporarily, action of which is called as “deferred action”. This program is called by the Obama Administration as Deferred Action for Childhoon Arrivals, or DACA.

Deferred action granted under DACA is valid for only two years, and may renewed for another two years. Presently, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is accepting applications both from youths previously granted DACA and from those who wish to renew it.

What is Deferred Action?

Deferred action is an administrative relief from deportation. Through this action, the DHS authorizes non-U.S. citizens to remain in the U.S. for a temporary period of time. Persons granted this relief may also apply for employment authorization document or a “work permit” during the period which he or she has deferred action.

Deferred action is granted on a case-to-case basis, and not everyone who qualifies for the conditions set upon by the rules may be granted the same. Still, the DHS decides whether or not to grant an applicant a deferred action.

It should be noted that deferred action is granted temporarily and it does not give rise to a lawful permanent residency in the U.S, nor a U.S. citizenship. However, those granted deferred action is considered as a person lawfully present in the U.S. for the entire duration of the grant.

Who qualifies for DACA?

You may request DACA if you:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012:

Requisites under this condition:

  • You were under the age of 31 years
  • You were physically present in the United States
  • You had no lawful status

Likewise, it is required that as of the date you file your request you:

  • Have resided continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007;
  • Had come to the United States before your 16th birthday
  • Were physically present in the United States; and
  • Are in school, have graduated from high school in the United States, or have a GED; or
  • Are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

Proof required under this condition:

  • Passport with admission stamp
  • Form I-94/I-95/I-94W
  • School records from the U.S. schools you have attended
  • Any Immigration and Naturalization Service or DHS document stating your date of entry (Form I-862, Notice to Appear)
  • Travel records
  • Hospital or medical records
  • Employment records (pay stubs, W-2 Forms, etc.)
  • Official records from a religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony
  • Copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the country
  • Birth certificates of children born in the U.S.
  • Dated bank transactions
  • Automobile license receipts or registration
  • Deeds, mortgages, rental agreement contracts
  • Tax receipts, insurance policies
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;  

Proof required under this condition:

  • Official records from a religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony
  • Copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the country
  • Passport entries
  • Birth certificates of children born in the U.S.
  • Dated bank transactions
  • Automobile license receipts or registration
  • Deeds, mortgages, rental agreement contracts
  • Tax receipts, insurance policies
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

Proof required under this condition:

  • Rent receipts or utility bills
  • Employment records (pay stubs, W-2 Forms, etc)
  • School records (letters, report cards, etc)
  • Military records (Form DD-214 or NGB Form 22)
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

What qualifies as “currently in school?”

To meet this requirement, you must be enrolled in:

    • a public, private, or charter elementary school, junior high or middle school, high school, secondary school, alternative program, or homeschool program that meets state requirements;
    • an education, literacy, or career-training program (including vocational training) that has a purpose of improving literacy, mathematics, or English or is designed to lead to           placement in postsecondary education, job training, or employment, and where you are   working toward such placement; or
    • an education program assisting students either in obtaining a regular high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under state law (including a certificate of completion, certificate of attendance, or alternate award), or in passing a GED exam or other         equivalent state-authorized exam.
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor ,or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

What is considered as “significant misdemeanor”?
A misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum penalty of imprisonment does not         exceed one year, but not less than five days. A single “significant misdemeanor” makes         an applicant ineligible for deferred action.
DHS considers the following as “significant misdemeanors”:

    • An offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; driving under the influence (these offenses are considered “significant misdemeanors” regardless of the length of the sentence that is imposed).
    • For offenses not listed above, a “significant misdemeanor” is one for which you were sentenced to more than 90 days in custody. This does not include a suspended sentence.

What types of offenses count as “three or more misdemeanor offenses”?
Any misdemeanor (not meeting the definition of “significant misdemeanor”) for which     the applicant is sentenced to at least one day in custody counts toward the “three or more misdemeanor offenses.”
Important to Note:

  • DHS does not count minor traffic offenses as misdemeanors, unless they are drug- or alcohol-related.
  • DHS does not count immigration-related offenses created by state immigration laws as being misdemeanor offenses or felonies.
  • DHS will look at all the circumstances in a case to decide whether the applicant who has committed a criminal offense will be given deferred action.

National Security and Public Safety Guidelines:

Applicants convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or three or more other misdemeanor offenses not occurring on the same date and not arising out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct will not be considered for DACA. Those otherwise deemed to pose a threat to national security or public safety will likewise be not considered.

Requesting DACA for the First Time
In requesting DACA for the first time, proceed with the following steps:
Step 1: Collect the required documents as proof you meet the requisites
Requesting for DACA requires the following proof of identity:

  • Passport or national identity document from your country of origin
  • Birth certificate with photo identification
  • School or military ID with photo
  • Any U.S. government immigration or other document bearing your name and photo

Step 2: Complete the USCIS form I-821D, I-765, and I -765WS
            In completing your forms, be guided by the following:

    • Make sure to file the most recent version of the forms needed. These forms are available from the USCIS website. Note that older versions of the form as submitted will be rejected.
    • Write your personal information exactly the same way on each form.
    • While it is preferred that you fill in the forms electronically, you may also complete the form by hand using black ink ONLY. In the event that you need to erase or alter information you provided on the forms, you should fill in a new form to avoid scanning errors.
    • All forms should be signed and with all the required documentation and evidence.

            Step 3: Mail all the form to the USCIS and fees (total:$465)
USCIS will not accept incomplete forms or forms without proper fee. USCIS will mail     a receipt after accepting your request. You may also choose to receive an email and/or      text message notifying the applicant that the form has been accepted by completing the           Form G-1145, or the E- Notification of Petition or Application Acceptance.
            Step 4: Submit Biometrics
            After USCIS receives the complete request with fees, applicant will be requested to visit an ASC for biometrics services. Failure to attend the ASC appointment may result in the          denial of the DACA request.
            Step 5: Check the status of your request online
            The 90-day period for reviewing Form I-765 filed together with Form I-821D begins if     and when USCIS decides to defer action in the case of the applicant.

Renewing DACA
If the two-year grant of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) is about to expire, the grantee may request for its renewal.
Who can renew DACA?
Under the guidelines, the following may renew DACA::

  • Those who not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;
  • Those who have continuously resided in the United States since you submitted your most recent DACA request that was approved; and
  • Thos who have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The renewal request must be submitted 120 days before the current period of the expiration of DACA. Submission for renewal beyond this period may result in the rejection of the renewal request.

How to Renew

Complete and sign the following:

  • Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • Use the most recent version of Form I-821D on our website or USCIS will reject your form.
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  • Form I-765W Worksheet

USCIS may request additional document to verify your information supporting the request for DACA renewal. Likewise, the USCIS may contact educational institutions, government agencies, employers, and any other entities to verify information provided in the request.

Fee Exemptions
Requests for fee exemptions must be filed and granted before the submission of DACA request. In order to qualify for fee exemption, the applicant must submit a letter and supporting documentation to the USCIS showing that the applicant meets the following conditions:

  • You are under 18 years of age, have an income that is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level, and are in foster care or otherwise lacking any parental or other familial support; or,
  • You are under 18 years of age and homeless; or,
  • You cannot care for yourself because you suffer from a serious, chronic disability and your income is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level; or,
  • You have, at the time of the request, accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as a result of unreimbursed medical expenses for yourself or an immediate family member, and your income is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level.

The following evidence may be submitted as well:

  • Affidavits from community-based or religious organizations to establish a requestor’s homelessness or lack of parental or other familial financial support.
  • Copies of tax returns, bank statement, pay stubs, or other reliable evidence of income level.
  • An affidavit from the applicant or a responsible third party attesting that the applicant does not file tax returns, has no bank accounts, and/or has no income to prove income level.
  • Copies of medical records, insurance records, bank statements, or other reliable evidence of unreimbursed medical expenses of at least $10,000.

Important to Note:

  • If USCIS grants DACA and employment authorization, a written notice of that decision will be sent to the applicant. An Employment Authorization Document will arrive separately in the mail.
  • If USCIS decides not to grant DACA, the applicant cannot appeal the decision or file a motion to reopen or reconsider.
  • Certain travel outside the United States may affect the continuous residence guideline. Traveling outside the U.S. before Aug. 15, 2012, will not interrupt the continuous residence requirement if the travel was brief, casual, and innocent. Travel outside the United States after Aug. 15, 2012, and before your request for DACA is decided may result to the denial of your DACA request.

You Need an Immigration Attorney for Your DACA Request

It is crucial to note that the USCIS may or may NOT grant your DACA request, subject to their sole discretion– and taking care of your application yourself may decrease your chances of being granted with DACA.

With this, you need an immigration attorney to assist your through request and application.

An immigration attorney can help you assemble all the necessary documents to establish your eligibility for DACA; among many other things. Being an immigration expert, an immigration lawyer can also prove your physical presence in the U.S, continuous residence requirements; and such other documentation to show that you are fit for DACA.

If you want to make sure that you are submitting verifiable and correct documentation, you need a lawyer working with your on your request.
At The Gambacorta Law Office, our goal is to help you out on your DACA request most efficiently and effectively, working passionately towards achieving favorable results for you.
Get in touch with us to know more about how we can help you with your DACA request!