Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was created by Pres. Obama in 2012, which deferred action on immigration cases for certain undocumented people who came to the United States as a child. USCIS began accepting applications for this program on August 15, 2012.
DACA is granted to certain individuals on a discretionary basis to those who have a pending removal order, currently in removal proceedings or have no removal actions being faced by them. Under DACA status and undocumented immigrant may apply for an Employment Authorization Document and Social Security card which allows them to work legally in the United States and in many states provides them the opportunity to apply for a driver’s license. At this time there is no direct manner and using DACA to obtain a green card (lawful permanent resident status), which is the road to citizenship in the United States.
Individuals must meet following criteria to apply for DACA:
- Are under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the U.S. while under the age of 16;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 to the present. (For purposes of calculating this five-year period, brief absences from the United States for humanitarian reasons will not be included);
- Entered the U.S. without inspection or fell out of lawful visa status before June 15, 2012;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or armed forces;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors of any kind; and
- Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Applicants will have to provide substantial documentary evidence of the above criteria. In addition, every applicant must complete and pass a biographic and biometric background check.
What can bar you from applying for DACA?
DHS will deem as “significant” any misdemeanor involving any of the following, regardless of the sentence imposed:
- domestic violence;
- sexual abuse or exploitation;
- unlawful possession of firearms;
- driving under the influence; or
- drug distribution or trafficking.
This restriction can also be extended to any misdemeanor (a crime which is not a felony) in which the person applying for DACA was sentenced to more than 90 days in jail, but this time does not include a suspended sentence or time in custody for immigration matters, these crimes will be considered in triggering denial of DACA.
Age restrictions to DACA: A person who is applying for DACA must be at least 15 years old at the time of applying. Although, immigrants who are currently in removal proceedings, have a removal order from an immigration court or received an order of voluntary departure, are exempt from the age requirement and can file if they are below the age of 15. Finally, those who were 31 years old or older on June 15, 2012 may not apply for DACA.
Joseph F. Botelho, Esq.
BOTELHO LAW GROUP
Attorneys At Law
901 Eastern Ave.
Fall River, MA 02723