1. What is DACA?
On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a new plan to assist undocumented youth. It is not a new law, or even a regulation. It is not a long-term solution nor does it grant legal status. However, this program is a way for undocumented young people to ask the U.S. Immigration Service to exercise prosecutorial discretion to let them stay for two years at a time. DACA can also lead to a two-year work permit and a social security number.
2. Who qualifies for DACA?
The following criteria must be satisfied before an individual is considered for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. The applicant must:
have come to the U.S. under the a:ge of 16;
have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and is present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military;
have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety;
not be above the age of 30.
3. Will I be able to get a driver’s license with DACA?
This varies from state to state. In Michigan, the Secretary of State has issued a policy that it will deny driver’s license applications for DACA youth. A lawsuit has recently been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union to challenge this decision. The case is pending.
4. Should I request work authorization even if I am not planning to work?
YES. The deferred action approval will be issued of paper, but the work authorization card is a U.S. government issued photo ID, which is very good to have. The work card will also allow you to get a social security number, and depending on the state you are in may allow you to get a driver’s license. Finally, the work card is part of the DACA application fee so it does not cost anything extra.
5. Does DACA make it easier to gain permanent residence or citizenship?
No. Unless the Dream Act passes, you will have to keep looking for a path to longer term status.
6. If I am still deciding about whether to apply, what can I do now to get ready?
For now, you can start to gather any proof you can that demonstrates the following: you lived in the U.S. for five years, you were in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and you came to the U.S. before age 16. This evidence can include credit card receipts, bills, doctor records, school records, tax forms, affidavits, etc.
7. Will DACA let me travel internationally?
International travel is discouraged even with DACA approval. If travel is necessary for “humanitarian, education or work purposes,” you should first apply for Advance Parole travel documents.
8. If DACA is denied, will I get deported?
USCIS announced that there will not be an appeal process for deferred action. Once it is denied, it cannot be overturned. USCIS has also announced that an applicant whose DACA application is denied will be placed in removal proceedings only if there is a factor that heightens the priority for removal. According to USCIS, the information on the applications will not be shared with ICE or CBP unless you are considered a threat to national security, committed fraud in your application, or have been convicted of a criminal offense. This is USCIS’s current policy, however, and is subject to change.
9. Should I hire an attorney to process my DACA application?
There is no rule that says you must have an attorney. However, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a reputable attorney to evaluate your case and assist you with your application. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 616-632-8000.