DACA was a program that began under President Obama in 2012 designed to give some protection to people who had been brought to the United States as children and had remained in the United States. DACA is not a law passed by Congress, but is a program put in place by the Obama administration.
People who are granted DACA were placed in "deferred action" status for two years, which means that they would not be deported during that time, unless their DACA was revoked. Additionally, DACA recipients are also eligible to apply for a work permit. Both the work permit and DACA status could be renewed every 2 years.
As will be discussed below, DACA is the subject of several different federal lawsuits and its status is frequently in flux.
Who Qualifies to Apply for DACA?
To be eligible for DACA, you must meet the following requirements:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Changes Under the Trump Administration – Who Can Apply for DACA Now?
On September 5, 2017, the Trump Administration announced that they would be phasing out the DACA program. Effective immediately, no new initial DACA applications would be accepted. This meant that anyone who had not already applied for DACA no longer could apply, even if they would be eligible. Additionally, only certain people would be allowed to renew their DACA status, and those applications were required to be submitted by October 5, 2018.
Almost immediately, several states and organizations sued the Federal government to halt the cancellation of DACA. Fortunately, several different courts agreed, and part of the DACA program was reinstated. Under the current court orders, people who have already been granted DACA are eligible to renew DACA, but no initial DACA applications (from people who do not have DACA already) will be accepted. The lawsuits are still ongoing, and the issue may eventually be decided by the Supreme Court. Please continue to check back for updates.