How to Renew Your DACA: A Step-by-Step Guide

Renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a critical process for those who have previously been granted deferred action under the program. Established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), DACA provides certain undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children with relief from deportation and eligibility for work authorization. As of recent updates, individuals who currently hold DACA status can file their renewal forms online, streamlining the process.

  It is crucial for recipients to initiate the renewal process before their current grant expires to maintain their protections and work authorization. The USCIS requires submission of specific forms, such as the I-821D for DACA consideration, and the I-765 for work authorization. By closely following the USCIS guidelines and preparing the necessary documentation in advance, individuals can ensure a smoother renewal process.

Eligibility Criteria

To renew Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an applicant must meet specific criteria related to age, education, criminal history, and continuous residence. Adherence to these requirements ensures that the renewal process proceeds smoothly.

Age Requirements

The individual must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. It is also required that they came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday.

Educational Requirements

Applicants need to either be currently in school, have graduated from high school, or possess a GED. Alternatively, they could have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces or the Coast Guard.

Criminal History Assessment

No felony convictions, significant misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors are allowed. Individuals must not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Continuous Residence Requirement

The DACA renewal applicant must have continuously resided in the United States since their last granted period of DACA. Absences from the country after August 15, 2012, must have been with advance parole.

Application Process

The application process to renew DACA is precise and time-sensitive, requiring applicants to submit accurate forms, gather relevant documents, and adhere to USCIS’s specific deadlines and fee instructions.

Completing Form I-821D

To renew DACA status, the applicant must complete Form I-821D, “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” This form should be filled out following the guidelines provided by USCIS, ensuring all information is current and correct.

Gathering Supporting Documents

Applicants must collect supporting documents to demonstrate continuous residence in the United States since the initial DACA approval. These may include school records, employment records, or utility bills.

Submission Deadlines

It is essential to submit the renewal application within the period starting 150 days before and ending 120 days before the current DACA and work authorization expire.

Filing Fee and Waiver Information

The standard fee for renewing DACA is $495, which includes the employment authorization document (EAD). In cases of financial hardship, applicants may request a fee waiver by filing Form I-912, “Request for Fee Waiver,” and providing the required documentation.

After Submission

Once a DACA renewal application is submitted, applicants enter a phase of waiting and responding to any requirements from USCIS. The following are steps and what one should expect:

Receipt Notice

After submitting the DACA renewal application, the applicant will receive a Receipt Notice from USCIS. This notice confirms that USCIS has received the application and provides a tracking number, known as a receipt number. Applicants should carefully store this notice as it is crucial for tracking the application’s progress.

Biometrics Appointment

As part of the renewal process, USCIS will schedule a Biometrics Appointment for the applicant. This appointment is for collecting fingerprints, a photograph, and a signature. The date, time, and location will be mailed to the applicant in the form of an appointment notice. It is important for applicants to attend this appointment or reschedule in advance if necessary.

Request for Evidence

In some cases, USCIS may require more information or documents to process the renewal application. If this happens, they will send a Request for Evidence (RFE). Applicants will have a specified time frame to respond. Missing the deadline can result in a delay or denial of the application, so prompt attention to an RFE is vital.

Approval and Receipt of EAD

Upon successful review and approval of the DACA renewal application, the applicant will receive an Approval Notice. Subsequently, the updated Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which serves as a work permit, will be mailed to the applicant. The EAD is typically valid for two years from the date of issuance.

Maintaining DACA Status

Maintaining Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status requires diligent adherence to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidelines. One must report any changes in their circumstances, understand travel limitations, and comply with renewal timelines.

Reporting Changes to USCIS

Individuals must report significant life changes to USCIS. This includes changes in:

  • Contact Information: Any updates in address or phone number must be reported within 10 days.
  • Legal Status: Events such as arrests or changes in immigration status.

Travel Restrictions

DACA recipients face strict travel restrictions. They should be aware of the following:

  • Advance Parole: Permission must be obtained before traveling outside the U.S. to re-enter legally.
  • Unauthorized Travel: Leaving without advance parole may result in the loss of DACA status.

Renewal Timeline and Compliance

Timely renewal applications are crucial for maintaining uninterrupted DACA status. Below is a summary of the renewal process:

  • Application Submission Window: Ideally, submit renewal forms between 120-150 days before current DACA and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expiration.
  • Forms Required: Renewal involves Form I-821D, Form I-765, and Form I-765WS.

Legal Considerations

Renewing DACA status involves understanding the legal framework and potential implications that come with the application process. Applicants should be aware of the specific legal considerations to maintain compliance and protect their rights.

Consultation with Immigration Attorney

An immigration attorney can provide personalized legal advice, ensuring that the renewal application adheres to current policies. Attorneys remain updated on any changes that may affect the DACA renewal process and can navigate complex legal issues.

Potential Risks of DACA Denial

One must understand the risks involved if their DACA renewal application is denied. These risks include loss of employment authorization and potential initiation of removal proceedings. Each applicant’s case is different, and they should be aware of the implications of a denial on their specific situation.

Rights and Responsibilities as a DACA Recipient

DACA recipients possess certain rights, such as the ability to work legally in the United States and protection from deportation. They also have responsibilities, including renewing their status on time and not engaging in activities that may disqualify them from protections. Recipients must comply with all renewal requirements and report any changes in their information to USCIS.

Additional Resources

When renewing DACA status, applicants may benefit from a variety of support mechanisms, each offering specific forms of assistance. Understanding these resources ensures that individuals navigate the renewal process more effectively.

USCIS Official Updates

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides the most authoritative and up-to-date information regarding DACA. Applicants should check the USCIS DACA page for:

  • The latest renewal forms (Form I-821D, Form I-765, and I-765WS)
  • Step-by-step instructions for submission
  • Information on filing fees and waiver options

Community Support Organizations

Various organizations offer assistance and advocacy for DACA recipients. For personalized legal support, applicants can contact:

  • United We Dream, a large immigrant youth-led community that provides tools for DACA renewals and other immigration-related concerns.
  • Local Mexican Consulates for Mexican DACA recipients requiring immigration screenings and legal aid. Information can be obtained by calling 855-463-6395 or visiting their website.

Educational Workshops and Seminars

Workshops and seminars can be invaluable for those seeking to understand the complexities of the DACA renewal process. These sessions often cover:

  • Detailed walk-throughs of the application process
  • Tips for avoiding common mistakes
  • Guidance on preparing for potential changes to the DACA policy