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Get Informed: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Goes into Effect August 15

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Today, August 15, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services agency will begin accepting requests for consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from children and young adults who entered the US without authorization prior to the age of 16 – a policy which, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, could benefit up to 1.4 million unauthorized immigrants.

In June, the Obama administration made the announcement, dubbed the DREAM Act – lite, that the Department of Homeland Security would exercise prosecutorial discretion for unauthorized immigrants who fulfill specific criteria.

Deferred action is an immigration category that allows individuals who are non-US citizens to temporarily remain in the US, according to the National Immigration Law Center. Individuals whose cases are in deferred action may also apply for employment authorization. The impact of DACA on eligibility to obtain driver's licenses, access to in-state tuition and other benefits will vary by state.

The National Immigration Law Center and others have launched Own the Dream/ Únete al Sueño website to educate and link so-called DREAMers who meet DACA criteria to resources to complete the application process.  

Clinicians, service providers and those who may meet the DACA criteria can use this interactive map on the Own the Dream website to seek or refer patients to legal services.

Individuals may qualify to request deferred action for childhood arrivals if they:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;  
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or their lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

To submit a request for consideration for DACA, applicants must complete and submit Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to USCIS. This form must be completed, properly signed and accompanied by a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and a Form I-765WS, Worksheet, establishing economic need for employment.

DACA does not provide lawful permanent resident status or a path to citizenship. Also, immediate relatives or dependents of those who qualify for deferred action are not eligible for deferred action unless they “independently satisfy the guidelines,” according to the USCIS website

Applications will not be accepted before August 15.

For updated answers to more Frequently Asked Questions regarding the request for DACA process, visit the FAQ page on the NILC or Own the Dream websites. USCIS also published this eligibility brochure.

Own the Dream also operates a telephone hotline: 1-855-DREAM-31 as does USCIS: 1-800-375-5283