Note: As of September 5, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer be accepting new applications under the DACA program (however, renewals for existing DACA beneficiaries will be accepted through the end of the month). Extension of the program, which was rescinded by the Trump administration, will require congressional action.
If you were born outside of the United States and entered the country without proper authorization as a child, you may be able to avoid deportation and obtain temporary work authorization. As the name suggests, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy that defers removal action of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country unlawfully by their parents. Under the DACA, eligible immigrants may avoid deportation for two-years but are not given formal legal status.
The DACA is commonly associated with the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that (if passed) would grant similarly situated immigrants temporary residency for six years with a path to permanent residency. But DACA, which has been called "DREAM Act Light," does not grant such amnesty and merely defers removal (or deportation) of qualified applicants for a period of two years (renewal is possible at the end of two years). In addition, qualified applicants may apply for employment authorization, but must be able to prove economic necessity.
Undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children are eligible for deferred action if the following requirements are met:
It is up to each applicant to provide evidence of his or her eligibility. For example, you may present any U.S. government document bearing your photo and name as proof of identity if you do not have a passport, school ID, or other traditional form of ID. For more information about acceptable forms of evidence and documentation, see the "Initial Evidence" section on page 3 of "Instructions for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (PDF).
How Do I Apply?
If you meet the eligibility requirements and would like to be considered for DACA, see "Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," which includes links to forms I-821D (PDF) and instructions for form I-821D (PDF), current fees, and additional information. As of September 5, only renewals of existing DACA beneficiaries will be accepted through the end of the month.
These are the main steps you must take to apply for DACA:
After filing, you may check the status of your DACA request online. If denied, you may not file a request to reconsider or appeal the decision.
See FindLaw's main Immigration Law page for additional articles and resources. To speak with a lawyer about U.S. citizenship or immigration, contact a local immigration attorney who can guide you through each step of the process and protect your legal rights.
Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help with deportation or removal proceedings.