DACA Case Denied: Understanding Your Next Steps and Options

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy that protects eligible immigrant youth who came to the United States when they were children from deportation. DACA provides the opportunity for beneficiaries to stay in the U.S., to work, and to study. However, not all applications are approved. When the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies a DACA case, it means they have evaluated the application and decided that the individual does not meet the qualifications for the program.

Being denied DACA status has significant implications for applicants. It can halt their ability to work legally in the U.S. and puts them at risk for deportation. Applicants do not receive a refund of their application fees if their case is denied. Understanding the reasons behind a case denial and the potential steps forward is crucial for those affected.

Recent legal challenges have introduced additional layers of complexity to DACA’s stability as a program. In particular, a 2023 decision by a federal judge in Texas deemed the DACA program unlawful. While this ruling directly impacts new applications, it has also generated uncertainty regarding current recipients and the program’s future. Applicants and current beneficiaries must stay informed of any legal changes that may affect their status and rights in the United States.

Overview of DACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration policy designed to protect eligible immigrant youth from deportation and provide them with work authorization.

Eligibility Requirements for DACA

Individuals must meet the following criteria to be eligible for DACA:

  • Age Requirements: Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday.
  • Residency Requirements: Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time.
  • Education or Military Service Requirements: Currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
  • Criminal Background: Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

The Process of DACA Application

The process of applying for DACA generally follows these steps:

  1. Evidence Collection: Applicants gather documents as evidence of their eligibility.
  2. Form Submission: Applicants complete and submit Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
  3. Biometrics Appointment: After form submission, applicants schedule and attend a biometrics appointment for background checks.
  4. Adjudication: USCIS reviews the application, the evidence submitted, and background check results to make a decision on the case.

Reasons for DACA Case Denial

Denial of a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application can be the result of various specific and clear-cut reasons. A clear understanding of these reasons is critical for applicants.

Criminal Background and National Security Concerns

Any indication of threat to public safety or national security is a potential ground for denial. This includes certain misdemeanors, felonies, or multiple minor offenses which suggest disregard for the law.

Fraudulent Documentation or False Representation

Integrity of information is paramount in any legal process. Applications with fraudulent documentation or false representation of facts are subject to denial, as accuracy and honesty in provided information are strictly evaluated.

Failure to Meet Educational or Military Service Criteria

Applicants must demonstrate they are either in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans. Lack of proof in meeting these criteria can result in denial.

Missed Deadlines or Procedural Errors

Strict adherence to protocol is essential. Applications filed outside of the allotted renewal period or containing procedural mistakes, such as incorrect fees or forms, will face potential denial. It’s crucial to follow instructions meticulously.

Steps Following DACA Denial

Following a denial of a DACA application, it is crucial for individuals to understand the immediate steps to take, their rights, potential appeal processes, and conditions for reapplication.

Receiving Notice of Denial

When the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) denies a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) case, the applicant receives an official Notice of Denial. This document provides the reasons for denial and is pivotal for determining the next steps.

Understanding Your Rights

Upon denial, individuals have certain rights; for instance, they can stay informed about the specific reasons and grounds for the application’s rejection. It’s essential to carefully review the denial notice as it may contain information about the possibility to file a motion to reopen or reconsider the case.

Potential Paths for Appeal

Applicants should note that not all denial decisions are eligible for appeal. However, if eligible, they may submit a Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, to USCIS. This can contest the decision under specific circumstances stipulated in the denial letter.

Reapplying for DACA After Denial

If the circumstances that led to the initial denial have changed, or if the applicant can address and correct the reasons for denial, they may submit a new DACA application. It is crucial to ensure that all required forms are complete and accurately filled to avoid recurring denial based on application errors.

Legal Considerations

When an individual receives a “Case Was Denied” status on their DACA application, it indicates that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has decided against granting DACA status. It is crucial for individuals to understand the legal implications of a denied case and the potential steps they can take moving forward.

Consulting with an Immigration Attorney

Individuals should consider consulting with a licensed immigration attorney who can provide a thorough review of the DACA application that was denied and offer counsel on possible legal remedies. An attorney can help to assess the reasons for denial provided by USCIS and determine the feasibility of filing an appeal or motion to reopen or reconsider the case.

Review of Legal Options

A denied DACA applicant has limited time to review and act upon their legal options. They need to be well-informed about the various paths available which may include:

  • Appeals: An official request for a higher authority to review the decision.
  • Motions: A request to the USCIS to reexamine or reconsider its decision.
  • Re-filing: Submitting a new DACA application if circumstances have changed or if there were errors in the initial filing.

Navigating Immigration Court Proceedings

If a DACA denial leads to removal proceedings, individuals must understand the process of navigating immigration court. This includes:

  • Master Calendar Hearings: Preliminary hearings where individuals can state their case and defenses.
  • Individual Merits Hearings: Detailed proceedings where individuals present their case in-depth. Having legal representation in these proceedings can critically influence the outcome.

Impact of Denial on Future Immigration Status

When an individual’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application is denied, this decision can have significant repercussions on their future immigration opportunities in the United States.

Implications for Unlawful Presence

The denial of a DACA application may result in the accumulation of “unlawful presence” in the United States. Unlawful presence begins to accrue when:

  • The individual’s lawful status expires, or
  • They enter the country without inspection.

For individuals under 18, unlawful presence does not accrue. However, upon turning 18, they may begin to accumulate unlawful presence, which could lead to future bars on re-entry to the United States.

Effects on Future Visa or Citizenship Applications

A denied DACA case can negatively affect future visa or citizenship applications in the following ways:

  1. Application Scrutiny: The cause of denial, such as criminal history or immigration fraud, may be scrutinized in future applications.
  2. Inadmissibility: Certain grounds for denial could lead to a finding of inadmissibility, preventing re-entry into the U.S.

Applicants should be aware that previous denials must be disclosed on most immigration applications, which U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider in their decision-making process.

Support and Resources

When a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application is denied, it is crucial to know the available support and resources. These can range from local community organizations to educational and mental health services tailored for DACA recipients.

Community and Legal Support Organizations

Community and legal support organizations provide assistance in navigating immigration laws and may offer services for appeal or re-application. Some organizations specifically support DACA recipients, such as United We Dream which operates nationwide. In Arizona, the Arizona Center For Empowerment can be contacted for support.

  • Contacts for Legal Support

Educational Resources on Immigration Law

Educational resources help DACA recipients understand their legal options and rights. The USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) Frequently Asked Questions is a useful start for anyone looking for authoritative guidance.

  • Key Online Resources

Mental Health and Well-being Support for DACA Recipients

Facing a denied DACA application can be stressful. Mental health and well-being support can provide crucial emotional and psychological assistance. Recipients can access counseling services through local community centers or online platforms that offer specialized support for immigrants.

  • Mental Health Support Options
    • Local Community Health Centers: Individual counseling and support groups
    • Online Counseling Services: Specialized for immigrant populations