New Expansions to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program provides that those individuals who were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and who entered the United States before June 15, 2007 (5 years prior) as children under the age of 16 and who meet specific education and public safety requirements are eligible for deferred action on a case-by-case basis.This initial program provided 2 years of deferred action that could then be renewed for another two years.

A. Expanding the DACA Program

President Obama announced on Thursday his direction for the Department of Homeland Security to expand on the DACA programs as follows:

1. Remove the Age Cap

The DACA program will now apply to all otherwise eligible immigrants who entered the U.S. by the age of 16, regardless of how old they were in June 2012 or are today. The restriction of having to be under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 will no longer apply to applicants.

2. Extend DACA Renewal and Work Authorization to 3 Years

The authorized deferred action and the accompanying employment authorization period will be extended to three-year increments, rather than the current two year period. This change will go into effect for first-time applicants as well as renewal applications effective November 24, 2014. Beginning that date, USCIS should issue all work authorization documents valid for three years including those who applied and are currently waiting for two-year work authorization documents based on the renewal of an initial DACA grant. USCIS has also been directed to consider means to extend those current two-year renewals already issued to three years.

3. Adjust the Date of Entry Requirement

The Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, directed that in order to align the DACA program more closely with other deferred action authorization, the eligibility cut-off date by which an individual must have been residing in the United States should be adjusted from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010.

It is anticipated that USCIS will begin accepting applications under this new policy within 90 days (3 months) of this announcement.

B. Expanding Deferred Action

USCIS has been directed to establish a process, similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, for exercising prosecutorial discretion through use of deferred action on a case-by-case basis to those applicants who:

  • have, on the date of this announcement, a son of daughter who is a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card holder);
  • have continuously resided in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;
  • are physically present in the U.S. on the date of this announcement (Nov. 20, 2014), and at the time of submitting the request for deferred action with USCIS;
  • have no lawful immigration status on the date of this announcement;
  • are not an enforcement priority;
  • present no other factors that, in the exercise of discretion, makes the deferred action grant inappropriate.

All applicants for Deferred Action must submit biometrics (fingerprints and photos) to USCIS to conduct full background checks. These applicants will be eligible for employment authorization for a period of 3 years. All applicants will be required to pay the associated fees. Contact our immigration lawyer now for a free consultation.

USCIS will begin accepting applications from eligible applicants no later than 180 days (6 months) from the date of this announcement.

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