Our Nashville immigration attorneys explain how Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protects against deportation and the eligibility requirements.
Immigrants are often desperate to bring their families to the United States in order to give them a chance at a better life. Unfortunately, when they do so illegally, it can create serious problems for their children, referred to as “Dreamers.” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) can help protect Dreamers — protecting them from deportation and providing an opportunity for a work permit. Our Nashville immigration attorneys explain more about DACA benefits and eligibility requirements.
The Benefits of DACA And Who is Eligible
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) began in 2012 under then-President Barack Obama. President Obama created DACA after the Republican-controlled Congress failed to pass the Dream Act to provide legal status to children brought to the United States as children, by no fault of their own. DACA helped address common legal problems facing young adult immigrants who were brought to the United States as undocumented children.
While their illegal immigration status was due to no fault of their own, it prevented many of them from obtaining jobs or higher education as they got older and subjected them to sudden deportation. DACA was created to provide administrative relief. Through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the component of the Department of Homeland Security that administers the program, DACA protects young people against forced removal from the country, allows them to obtain work permits and can provide a path to future citizenship. In order to be eligible, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Originally entered the U.S. prior to turning 16;
- Continuously resided in the country since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of your DACA application;
- Be currently enrolled or recently returned to school, graduated, obtained a GED, or be an honorably discharged U.S. veteran;
- Have no felony or significant misdemeanor convictions on your record and otherwise pose a threat to public safety or national security.
DACA Application Requirements
DACA has been the subject of significant controversy over the years, and the program has been temporarily suspended several times. The Supreme Court previously upheld the validity of DACA in 2020. Pursuant to a later federal court decision stemming from Republicans’ efforts to stop DACA, USCIS is currently only allowed to renew DACA for persons who have been granted DACA in the past. In other words, if USCIS ever approved DACA for a person, that person is eligible to apply for renewal — even if their DACA grant has expired. USCIS authorizing work permits, and granting parole for those otherwise eligible for DACA.
Persons can lose their DACA or be denied for renewal because of criminal history. The rules for DACA renewal with any criminal history is complex. An attorney can review an immigrant’s criminal documents and help the client understand the risks of applying for DACA with a criminal history. Some criminal history does not affect the ability to renew DACA, whereas some convictions, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, can impact a person’s ability to keep or renew DACA benefits.
DACA is also a discretionary program, meaning that the government is not required to give an applicant “deferred action” (protection from deportation) or a work permit. Therefore, it is important to prepare a thorough application packet, especially if the applicant has had criminal or other legal challenges in the past.
DACA is life-changing for many immigrants brought to the United States before they were 16 years old. In Tennessee, the work permit (Employment Authorization Document) a DACA recipient receives allows the person to apply for a Tennessee driver license. Our attorneys have extensive experience making successful applications for DACA benefits for clients from Tennessee and elsewhere.
Our attorneys also have significant experience assisting clients tap the other, lesser-known benefits of DACA. For example, most DACA recipients are eligible to apply for advance parole, a different application that, if approved, permits DACA recipients to travel outside the United States. Many DACA recipients travel on advance parole to visit family members or attend conferences or work events. Even better, when DACA recipients granted advance parole return to the United States, they enter the United States legally. Then, their U.S.-citizen spouse or children may be able to file a petition for them in the United States, using their legal entry (i.e., with advance parole), to adjust their status and obtain permanent residency (a green card) inside the United States, without their having to leave the country to attend their immigrant visa interview at an embassy or consulate outside the United States.
Eligible for DACA? Contact Our Nashville Immigration Attorneys
DACA can protect you against deportation while allowing you to continue to live and work in the United States. At Ozment Law, PLC, we help you meet program requirements. To get our legal team on your side, call or contact our office online and request a consultation with our Nashville immigration attorneys today.