Original DACA program still intact during court order stopping expansion

Eligible DREAMers can get two-year deferrals of deportation action and work authorization.

In 2012, federal immigration authorities kicked off a new program to provide some relief to so-called DREAMers - relatively young undocumented immigrants who had been brought to the U.S. as children, obtained educations or served honorably in the military and lived lives free of serious crime. The program is entitled Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA.

Those who file successful DACA applications with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS receive two years of reprieve from prosecution for deportation as well as receipt of work authorization during that time. This is not a grant of legal status, only of deferred removal action. Applications are also accepted for DACA renewals every two years. The agency advises filing a renewal application in plenty of time before expiration of the deferred-action period.

In 2014, President Barack Obama announced he was taking executive action to expand DACA eligibility and extend the deferred-action period to three years, along with an intention to begin a similar program for undocumented immigrants who are parents of citizens or legal residents (the DAPA program).

However, a group of states filed suit in federal court to stop the expansion and a federal judge issued a temporary injunction ordering USCIS not to carry out the president's executive action pending resolution of the lawsuit. That injunction is on appeal, but still in effect for now (as of this October 2015 writing).

In the meantime, however, the original DACA program continues to accept new and renewal applications. Eligibility criteria are:

  • Under age 31 on June 15, 2012
  • Came to the U.S. before age 16
  • Continual residence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, to the present
  • Physical presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of application
  • No lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • In school, graduated or obtained a high school certificate of completion or GED; or honorable discharge from the U.S. military or Coast Guard
  • No conviction of a felony, significant misdemeanor or three or more other misdemeanors; and not a threat to public safety or national security

Anyone wondering about DACA eligibility should speak with an immigration lawyer because the actual requirements can be complicated in certain circumstances and interpretation of the law may be unexpected. Legal counsel can also assist with the sizeable application and gathering of supporting documentation. There is little allowance for review of a denied application, so proper preparation is essential.

The lawyers of Ozment Law in Nashville, Tennessee, represent clients in DACA matters and other immigration issues.

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