June 14, 2014
On June 5, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the extension process for those who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Individuals are now immediately eligible to submit the applications to extend their DACA status and related work permit.
The DACA program was started on June 15, 2012, through an executive order issued by President Obama that is designed to ease the burdens of undocumented individuals who were brought to the United States while they were still innocent children. The DHS began accepting DACA applications on Aug. 15, 2012. As of April 2014, more than 560,000 individuals have been granted DACA benefits, typically valid for a period of 2 years.
Individuals whose DACA benefits are expiring must file applications to extend their DACA status and work permit. To be eligible for an extension, individuals must fulfill the following requirements: 1) Did not depart the U.S. on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole; 2) Have continuously resided in the U.S. since they submitted their most recent DACA request that was approved; and 3) Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or 3 or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Individuals should submit the applications for extension about 4 months before their DACA status will expire to avoid gaps in their DACA status and work permit. Applications should not, however, be submitted more than 5 months before the expiration date as the DHS may reject it as being premature. If granted, DACA status and a work permit will again generally be granted for a period of 2 years. Individuals can apply for and obtain an advance parole travel document any time during the validity of their DACA status.
The DHS is also continuing to accept applications for those who have never been granted DACA. The following are the criteria for DACA eligibility: 1) Under age 31 on 06/15/2012; 2) Entered US before age 16; 3) Continuously resided in the US from at least 06/15/2007 to the present; 4) Physically present in US on 06/15/2012 and at time of submitting the DACA application; 5) Entered without inspection before 06/15/2012 or no longer in a valid immigration status on 06/15/2012; 6) On the date the DACA application is filed, be currently in school; have graduated from a US high school; have obtained a GED certificate; or honorably discharged from the US military; 7) Must not have been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor offense, or 3 or more misdemeanor offenses; and 8) If the individual has no final order of removal or pending removal case, be at least 15 years.
The DACA program is certainly a bright light in what has been such a struggle for so many. It is vital that individuals take advantage of the golden opportunities that DACA provides by applying for an initial grant or extension of DACA benefits.
For further information, please schedule an appointment with an attorney at Aquino & Loew, Immigration Law Specialists.