DACA provides deferral of removal for eligible DREAMers. Federal immigration policy under President Barack Obama has focused available federal resources on removing from the country those undocumented immigrants who have shown themselves to be threats to public safety or national security. The corollary to this policy is that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS, the main federal agency that enforces immigration laws, has refocused its attempts to remove undocumented immigrants from the county largely away from those who are law-abiding, productive members of society. One of the main programs in this regard is the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, which began on June 15, 2012. Under DACA, certain eligible so-called DREAMers – younger undocumented immigrants brought here as children who have grown up as lawful, productive members of society – are allowed to remain in the country for a two-year period with work authorization, subject to renewal. While DACA does not grant lawful status, USCIS will not exercise prosecutorial discretion to deport those successful applicants who continue to meet DACA requirements during the two-year period. Instead, removal action is deferred, pending another successful renewal of the two-year period. Here are the basic requirements for DACA eligibility:

  • The applicant must be have been younger than 31 on June 15, 2012.
  • The applicant must have come to the U.S. before age 16.
  • The applicant must have had continuous U.S. residence since June 15, 2007, up to the present time.
  • The applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of DACA application.
  • The applicant must have had no lawful status on June 15, 2012.
  • The applicant must be in school, have graduated or received a high school certificate of completion or a general education development certificate, known as a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military.
  • The applicant must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors; and must not pose a public safety or national security threat.

While these requirements sound straightforward, they actually can be complicated as applied to a given person’s situation. For this reason, it is smart to consult with an immigration attorney to understand the nuances of the program and for help with the application. It can be important to submit properly completed application forms along with required documentation the first time, because there are only very narrow grounds for review if the application is denied. USCIS recommends that applications to renew a two-year DACA removal deferral period be submitted at least four months before it expires. Similarly, legal counsel can assist with proper preparation of the renewal request. The immigration lawyers of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., based in Oakland, California, represent clients throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, statewide, nationally and internationally with DACA and a wide variety of immigration matters.