Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, if you might not know, is a relief program that is meant to protect the immigrant youth who were deported from their country and established a home in the United States at a very young age. Through this program, the unlawful immigrants who became a part of the United States at a very young age are shielded from deportation with a two-year deferred program that is subjected to renewal. This article aims to highlight the DACA Act in detail and its origins. We will also touch on the basics of who is eligible for this program and how can apply for it, along with the DACA renewal fee.
- 1 DACA Renewal Fee
- 1.1 So, What Is the Dream Act?
- 1.2 Eligibility For DACA Program
- 1.3 How to Renew DACA?
- 1.3.1 Keep a Close Eye on the Expiration Date
- 1.3.2 Find an Immigration Attorney or a Local Non-profit Organization
- 1.3.3 Previous Renewal Application
- 1.3.4 Download the Application From the Website
- 1.3.5 Complete the Application Form
- 1.3.6 Write a Cover Letter
- 1.3.7 Purchase the Money Order for DACA Renewal Fee
- 1.3.8 Take Photocopies
- 1.3.9 Pack and Mail Your Application
- 1.3.10 Where to Send the Package?
- 1.3.11 Biometrics Appointment
- 1.4 USCIS Delayed Processing Times
- 1.5 Latest News On DACA
- 1.6 How Many DACA Recipients Are There In Total?
- 1.7 Conclusion
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
DACA Renewal Fee
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is for those young children who were deported from their country at a young age and barely have any idea of their home country. These children are referred to as Dreamers who grew up in the American neighborhoods and associate themselves as a part of this country. According to the immigration laws passed in the past few years, the dreamers had no chance of living in the United States if it wasn’t for DACA. Through this program, the dreamers can become eligible to apply for consideration of deferred action, which saves them from deportation. In simpler terms, this program does not let them become lawful citizens of the United States but grants them a work permit.
Through the DACA program, the dreamers who meet all the necessary criteria can file a consideration of deferred action which lets them stay in the country for 2 years, subject to renewal. For two years, the dreamers are eligible for a work permit, and other benefits such as a driving license or getting a Social Security Number, etc., are granted. The eligible applicants should renew their DACA applications every two years.
The Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals, i.e., DACA Act, was signed by the former President of the United States in 2011. This federal law has brought forward many hidden unlawful immigrants to apply for this act. All the Applicants that applied for this program were called Dreamers.
So, What Is the Dream Act?
The Dream Act, Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act is a bill that was introduced in the year 2017. This bill is very different from the DACA Act in terms of the fact that this bill aims to change the immigration laws. Unlike the DACA Act, which does not provide any legal permanent status to the Dreamers, the Dream Act aims to provide legal permanent status to the dreamers. The Dream Act aims to make the following changes if implemented:
Conditional Permanent Residence
The first step in the Dream Act is to provide Conditional Permanent Residence to the dreamers which would last for 6 years. Through this period, the dreamers would have access to a work permit. If a person is eligible for the DACA act and follows the criteria below, then they are eligible to obtain the Conditional Permanent Residence under the Dream Act. The eligibility criteria are as follows:
- The person came to the United States when they were a child
- Either the person has graduated or is a part of the higher education or the person is enrolled in any secondary education school program or the person is enrolled or completed a vocational course to get a high school diploma
- The person should have a rightful conduct and should not have involved in any crimes or persecutions
The bill also claims that the Department of Homeland Security will issue waivers to certain people who were involved in any criminal offense for certain humanitarian reasons.
Lawful Permanent Residence
A dreamer can obtain a Lawful Permanent Residence if they satisfy any of the following criteria:
- The dreamer must have completed a degree in higher education or must have completed at least two years in a Bachelor’s degree program or any other higher educational degree
- At least two years in military service with good conduct
- The person must have stayed in employment for three years and had a work permit
If a person is unable to satisfy any of the above criteria due to any hardship, such as disability, then they can apply for a Hardship Waiver.
Neutralization refers to the process of giving citizenship to a person who isn’t a United States citizen, i.e., a foreign resident since birth. If the person has obtained the Lawful Permanent Residence for up to 5 years, then become eligible for Neutralization.
What Do You Need to Know About the Dream Act?
The Dream Act bill was originally passed in the year 2017 and several changes have been made to this bill in the past 2 decades. This bill is awaiting to be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate followed by the President’s signatures to be finally passed as a law. As of now, the only protection that the dreamers have is due to the DACA Act, which should be renewed every two years. The dreamers will have legal protection if the Dream Act is passed. In 2010, the Dream Act was passed by the House of Representatives but failed by 5 votes in the Senate.
So, when will this act be passed? This question is rather difficult to answer as there have been a few failures in the past. However, the new President promises to pass this bill if Congress supports it. For now, the only layer of protection is DACA as it safeguards the dreamers from getting deported and gives them a work permit. It is not a long-term solution for complete safety.
Eligibility For DACA Program
Applicants who are applying for DACA for the first time must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- The applicants must have entered the United States(unlawfully) before they turned 16
- Applicant must have lived in the United States continuously since July 15, 2017
- The applicant was under 31 on June 15, 2012
- Physical presence in the United States on July 15, 2012, and while filing a request application for the deferred act at the USCIS
- Either enrolled in high school, or completed high school, or enrolled in any military service
- The person has not committed any crimes or posed a threat to any other person
A person who was born after June 15, 1981, is within the age requirement of DACA. The only people who are ineligible for DACA are those who were 31 or older on June 15, 2012.
DACA Requirements for Renewal
If you are a person who is renewing their DACA application then you should apply for renewal 120 – 150 days before your current status expires. The following criteria must be met to renew DACA application:
- The applicant should have not departed from the United States on or after August 15, 2012, without any valid Travel Documents, i.e., Form I-131.
- Applicant remained in the United States after submitting the most recent request for DACA application
- The applicant did not commit any crimes or posed a threat to the national security or any person
Documents Required for DACA Program
Here is a list of some of the supporting documents that you need to apply for the DACA program:
- A valid identity proof such as birth certificate, passport, etc.
- Proof that you were in the United States before 16
- Your residence prior to turning 16
- Residential proof in June 2007
- Proof of any absence from the United States in 2007
- A valid proof for your presence in U.S. on June 15, 2007
- Educational proof, military proof, education completion proof
- Proof of criminal history
- Proof of removal proceedings
How to Renew DACA?
There are two ways to apply for a DACA renewal; renew DACA if the status has already expired but it hasn’t remained expired for long(less than 1 year), or you can renew if the status is close to being expired. The DACA renewal fee is $495. To carefully file the renewal application, take a look at the following steps on how you can renew your application:
Keep a Close Eye on the Expiration Date
The expiration date is mentioned on the I-797, Notice of Action form. You receive this form when your previous application was approved. The expiration date is present on the work permit card. Initially, the renewal only lasted for a year but now, the deferred action and the work permit last up to two years.
You should file for a renewal 4 or 5 months before your deferred action expires. If you wait until the last minute, you are at a high risk of losing both your work permit status and your job, additionally, your presence in the country is deemed unlawful. At such instance, you need to contact an attorney that could assist you in this matter.
Find an Immigration Attorney or a Local Non-profit Organization
It is important to have a certified representative by your side to help you complete the renewal process. With the information present in this article, you can only gain an overview of this subject. For a deeper insight, you need the assistance of a certified attorney. You can also try to find a local non-profit organization that can help you for a limited cost as getting an attorney is pricier.
Previous Renewal Application
To file for a renewal, you can take the assistance of the previous applications that you have filed. You should always keep a copy of the renewal document that you have filed. In this way, you can use the previous application as a major guideline, and you can streamline your approach without any errors.
Download the Application From the Website
You need to download all the required documents from the official USCIS website. Download them directly from the USCIS as they have the latest forms posted on the website. If the form is not the latest, you might have to face severe consequences. You will need Form I – 821D, Form I-765, Form I-765WS and Form G-1145.
Complete the Application Form
Before filling out the application, make sure to read the instructions. Use the previous application as a guide and fill in the current application. Make sure that every bit of information is accurate. Even if you do not have any copies of any previous applications, you need to fill the application using the instructions. You can either fill the form manually with black ink or you can fill it digitally.
Write a Cover Letter
With a cover letter, the USCIS agent will know what they’re in for when they are viewing the application. By using a cover letter, they will have an idea of the application. To write a cover letter, you can either use the previous cover letter or find any similar cover letters online. Make sure to customize it to suit one’s preferences. Additionally, note that you do not necessarily have to write the same cover letter every time you renew DACA. Add all the necessary content to the cover letter. Take a copy of every document and keep them safe. Either type the cover letter on the computer or write it neatly in black ink.
Purchase the Money Order for DACA Renewal Fee
As cash payments aren’t accepted for paying off the DACA renewal fee, it is advised that you use a money order to pay for the DACA renewal fee. The money order should be for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The DACA renewal fee corresponds to the application filing fee and the biometric fee. Purchase the money order for the DACA renewal fee of $495 from a local U.S. Post Office.
You should take copies of every document that you are sending to the USCIS including the application for, the money order for the DACA renewal fee, and any other receipts or forms.
Pack and Mail Your Application
Keep all your documents in the following order so that it is easy for the USCIS agents to review your application.
- The money order for the DACA renewal fee
- Cover letter
- All the forms, i.e., Form G-1145, Form I – 821D and Form I-765
- Recent passport sized photographs(2x)
- Employment authorization document front and back copy
- Form I-765WS followed by any other supporting documents
Where to Send the Package?
Not every application is supposed to be sent to the same location. Based on your location, the mailing address might differ. Take a look at the USCIS mailing addresses and send the package based on your current location. Select any faster delivery service and mail your package to its destination.
After 6-8 weeks, you might be asked to attend a biometric meeting for fingerprinting and photographing. This is done to ensure that you do not have any previous criminal records or have not committed any acts that pose a threat to one’s immigration status.
The final DACA work authorization card will be given to you after 6-12 months of your applying.
USCIS Delayed Processing Times
Once the final application is sent, the employment authorization card can take months to arrive. 3 service centers are handling the DACA renewals and the processing times for each varies to a great extent. You can take a look at the processing times calculator to determine how long the application will take.
Additionally, certain factors such as criminal cases or any immigration violation can further lag the processing timeline. Due to the delay in processing times, many people submit their application way before the expiration date, but the USCIS waits until the previous work permit is 150 days close to expiring.
So, what should you do if you believe that the processing is taking longer than usual? Here are a few ways to figure out what’s taking so long to process your DACA renewal fee and application.
- Find the Status of the application: Check the status of your application by entering your receipt number on the USCIS status tool.
- File an Inquiry for Outside normal Processing Time: If the service center is taking longer than the schedule processing time to process your application, then you can file an inquiry by contacting USCIS at 1-800-375-5283
Latest News On DACA
DACA Act was passed in the year 2012 by former President Barack Obama that protected unlawful immigrants from being deported. When this act was passed, as many as 800,000 applied for protection under this act. Although the former president Donald Trump tried to put an end to this program by filing several lawsuits, in the end, the Supreme Court was in favor of the Act and allowed the renewal of applications. According to the court’s statements, the program remained active and renewals of the dreamers were accepted.
The district court in Texas on July 20, 2021, has issued a decision by holding the DACA Act unlawful. For now, the recipients under the DACA Act are allowed to send their renewals. In simpler terms, the court emphasizes that the ones who were already under the protection of this act can apply for renewal. They will not lose their right to apply for renewal as per the court’s orders. Additionally, they can also apply for Advance Parole, which is a travel document that lets them move outside the country for educational, official, or humanitarian purposes.
As for those who are requesting deferred action for the very first time, the Immigration Services will accept their applications but will not approve any first-time requests after July 16, 2021. So, what does this mean? It simply means that all the people who applied for DACA in the past can continue applying but the ones who are applying for the first time after July 16, 2021, will not have their applications processed by the USCIS. This also includes the first-time applicants who have completed their biometric fingerprinting. Any further biometric meetings for the first-timers will be canceled.
How Many DACA Recipients Are There In Total?
Some of the most common DACA recipients include nurses, health care workers, medical practitioners, restaurant workers, cleaners, corporate sector workers, etc. All the DACA recipients constituted a major part of the United States’ essential workforce. Initially, the number of DACA applicants was 800,000 when this act was first introduced. According to the latest studies, the number of active DACA recipients in June 2021 is 590,070.
During the start of this program, 800,000 unlawful immigrants applied for this act. When this act was passed, all these immigrants were not more than 30 years of age. To be able to apply for this act, they had to show all kinds of proof which made them eligible. This act has significantly provided a great deal of assistance to those who barely had any form of social protection. With this Act, the dreamers have access to basic rights such as education, employment, approval for driver’s license, etc. According to a recent survey, many U.S. citizens were in favor of this act, while 20% opposed it.
This article, i.e., the DACA Renewal Fee, is only meant for educational purposes. It should not be used as legal advice or an alternative to any statements made by your attorney. All the constituents of this article are meant to only highlight some major parts of filing this application. We advise you to view this article as a reference and not a stand-alone in renewing your official application. Always take assistance from your attorney or any local non-profit organization on the dos and don’ts of filing the DACA application.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ’s)
You should renew your DACA application every two years. It is recommended to renew your application 120-150 days before the expiry date.
The DACA renewal fee is $495 which includes both the application and the biometric.
You can pay for DACA by purchasing a money order from the local U.S. Post Office.