USCIS has released the much-awaited form and instructions for renewing DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).
DACA status lasts only two years and must be renewed to continue the benefits of having DACA status. Although DACA is not a green card, it does provide some very important benefits that make life easier: work authorization, a Social Security Number and a driver license.
The earliest DACA applicants are now approaching the time to renew their status. Blackwell Law Group would be thrilled to help with your DACA renewal. Contact us today at 414-964-1900. We offer a 15% discount on attorney fees to individuals willing to come to the office in groups of 5 for group initial consultation.
How do I know when my DACA status expires?
The expiration date of your employment authorization card is the expiration date of your DACA status.
When should I apply to renew?
The best time to apply is between 120 days and 150 days before the expiration date of your DACA status.
If you apply at least 120 days in advance, USCIS is likely to have enough time to complete processing before your DACA expiration date.
Do be aware that applications filed more than 150 days before your DACA expiration date will be rejected and returned to you.
What if I can't apply at least 120 days in advance?
You risk not having your DACA status renewed before it expires. The closer you are to the expiration date when you apply for DACA renewal, the more likely your application will not be approved before your DACA status expires.
What happens if my DACA status expires?
Your work authorization expires.
If your employer asks to see proof of your work authorization after your DACA status expires, you will not have the proof. Without proof of work authorization, you may be fired from your job.
If you want to find a new job after your DACA status expires, you will not be able to prove you are authorized for work and may have a harder time finding an employer willing to hire you.
- Your driver license expires.
The expiration date on your driver license is tied to the expiration date of your DACA status. Without approval for another two years of DACA status, you will not be allowed to renew your driver license.
If you continue to drive after your driver license has expired, you risk being ticketed for driving without a license.
- Your Social Security Number remains yours even after your DACA status expires.
Where can I find the application form?
The application (Form I-821D) is available on the USCIS website. The form is used for both initial and renewal DACA applications, so pay close attention to the instructions to be sure you complete the form correctly.
You also need to file Form I-765 to renew your work authorization.
How much will it cost to renew my DACA status?
The government fees are $465.00. This money is paid when you file the I-821D and the I-765 applications.
If you want an attorney to help you, you also will have attorney fees to pay.
Do I have to have an attorney represent me for my DACA application?
No, but there are benefits to working with an attorney: the attorney becomes responsible for making sure the form is correctly filled out, the evidence is sufficient, the correct fees are paid, the mailing address is correct, the postage is correct and the application is filed at the right time.
If mistakes are made on your application that either delay approval or result in denial, then there is increased risk your DACA status will not be renewed before it expires.
If the attorney makes the mistakes, you can file a complaint against the attorney and may even get a refund from the attorney. There are no such protections when you do the forms by yourself or you go to a notario.
How might I disqualify myself from renewing my DACA status?
The most common way to disqualify yourself from DACA renewal will be a criminal conviction or a drunk driving offense since last applying for DACA.
If you have had any arrests or convictions in the last two years, you should consult with an immigration attorney before applying to renew DACA for advice on whether you continue to be eligible.
If you apply to renew and you are not eligible because of recent convictions, you risk being placed into removal proceedings as well as being denied DACA renewal.
What documents will I need for the renewal?
You will need documentation that proves the following:
you have been in the U.S. continuously for the last two years, e.g. school records, paystubs, bank statements, bills, medical records, passport stamps showing how much time you spent abroad
you have completed high school or GED (if you had not already done so when you last applied for DACA) or you are enrolled in high school or a GED program (if you still do not have a high school diploma or GED certificate)
you have not committed crimes or driving offenses that disqualify you from DACA, i.e. records for any arrests or convictions since you last applied for DACA
I was approved for DACA in 2012, but I am now almost 33 years old. Am I still eligible for DACA?
If you met the age criteria in 2012, you meet the age criteria now.
My passport has expired since I applied for DACA. Do I need to renew it before I apply to renew DACA?
No. Many people used a passport for the required photo ID for the initial DACA application. For your DACA renewal, your employment authorization card now acts as a photo ID.
Will I be fingerprinted again when I apply to renew my DACA status?
Yes. USCIS will take fingerprints again to be certain you have not been convicted of any crimes that disqualify you from DACA.
Before I applied for DACA, I requested an FBI criminal history report. Do I have to request another FBI criminal history report?
If you know you have not been arrested or convicted of any crimes, you do not need to do an FBI criminal history report.
An FBI criminal history report is only necessary when you know you have been arrested or convicted of a crime in the past but can't remember when or where. The FBI report gives you the information you need to track down the police and court records that USCIS will require to prove those arrests and convictions do not disqualify you from DACA.
I never applied for DACA in 2012 even though I qualified. Can I still apply now?
Yes. As long as you qualify and the program still exists, there is no deadline for applying.
You will need to prove you meet the following eligibility criteria:
Born after June 15, 1981
Here since June 15, 2007
Came to the U.S. before age 16 years
Have a high school diploma/GED or are enrolled in high school/GED program
Not convicted of a felony
Not convicted for three or more misdemeanors
I wasn't eligible for DACA in 2012 because I was under age 15, but now I have had my 15th birthday. Can I apply?
Yes! You will need to prove you have been here since June 15, 2007 as well as prove you are enrolled in high school and not convicted of a felony or three or more misdemeanors.
Is it worth renewing my DACA status when Congress might pass immigration reform that lets me get a green card instead?
Yes, because nobody knows whether Congress will ever pass immigration reform. There also is the possibility Congress might give preference to people with current DACA status.
Is it worth renewing my DACA status when the President might stop the program?
President Obama is not likely to stop the program as long as he is President. He ceases to be President on January 20, 2017.