Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Expanded!

On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would make unprecedented efforts to transform immigration enforcement to increase national security, public safety, border security and increase the integrity of the immigration system.  As part of that effort, the administration allowed certain individuals who came to the U.S. as children and met certain other requirements, to obtain a work permit and avoid deportation.  In President Obama’s recent announcement of his Executive Action for immigration in November of 2014, he expanded the DACA guidelines so that more individuals would be eligible.  Applications under this new guideline will be accepted starting February 18, 2015.

The requirements for DACA have now been expanded and is now available for many more people.  To be eligible to apply, one must have 1) continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010 to the present time; 2) been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012; 3) did not have lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012; 4) have graduated high school or obtained an equivalent certificate; and 5) pass a criminal background check (for example, not have been convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor).

One of the most significant changes in these guidelines is that there is no longer an age limitation to apply.  Previously, an applicant needed to be less than 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012. Another significant change is that the continuous presence requirement has been reduced. An applicant now need only show proof of continuous presence starting January 1, 2010 to the present.  Previously, the applicant needed to show proof from June 15, 2007. Further, USCIS is now issuing the work permits for three years, instead of two.

A new application form will be available starting February 17, 2015 for the newly eligible DACA applicants.  In addition to the new DACA guidelines, information on one of President Obama’s most anticipated Executive Actions, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), is estimated to be released in May 2015. Any potential applicants should be very wary of any individuals that claim that they can file these applications immediately. Speak to a knowledgeable attorney if you think you may qualify for any of these new benefits.