U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the renewal process for hundreds of thousands of young noncitizens who received a grant of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Renewal of DACA ensures current DACA holders will continue to be safe from deportation for another two year period. In addition, they will continue to have work authorization and to be eligible to receive a social security number, and, in nearly every state, a driver’s license.
DACA recipients are encouraged to request renewal between four to five months ahead of their expiration date to avoid a lapse, the earliest major wave of DACA recipients – who received their DACA grants in September and October of 2012 – will need to act right away. Although DACA recipients who seek to renew must complete multiple applications and submit to a background check, most will be pleased to discover that the renewal process is relatively straightforward and that most DACA recipients should qualify for renewal.
USCIS has made it clear that individuals who initially qualified for DACA will be eligible to renew unless they have engaged in certain criminal activity, they have departed the country without the government’s permission, or they have stopped residing in the United States. No one with DACA will be too old to renew – indeed, it is impossible to age-out of the DACA program. Moreover, individuals enrolled in school at the time of their initial application, will not be disqualified if they had to stop attending to see to other life responsibilities, such as working due to their new found eligibility to work legally.
In order to request renewal, DACA recipients will have to file an updated version of the DACA application as well as two related applications, pay a filing fee of $465, and submit to a background check (biometrics). DACA recipients should find the renewal process easier than the initial application process when it comes to providing supporting evidence. Where initial requestors were required to produce a substantial amount of evidence demonstrating their residence in the United States since June of 2007, many renewal requestors will not need to include any supporting documentation. Only those renewal requestors who received DACA from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and those with new documents involving removal proceedings or criminal history that were not previously submitted, will be required to submit evidence along with their renewal application.
A lapse in DACA could result in a loss of work authorization and a driver’s license. DACA recipients are encouraged to apply for renewal roughly four months before their expiration dates. This will give USCIS time to adjudicate the renewal request prior to expiration. Those who responsibly file far enough in advance of their expiration date may be given an automatic extension in the event of a processing delay, according to USCIS.
Unless and until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, the best option for many young aspiring Americans may be DACA. As President Obama said when he initially announced the DACA program in the first place, “these kids deserve to plan their lives in more than two-year increments.”