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USCIS is Accepting New DACA Applications Once Again

| Dec 28, 2020 | Firm News

There has been a flurry of activity surrounding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the past few weeks. The latest update is that, after a ruling and subsequent order from Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, USCIS is accepting new applications and work permits for DACA as of Dec. 7, 2020.

The order stems from an opinion issued by Judge Garaufis on Nov. 14, which ruled that Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf is not lawfully serving in his current position. As a result, Secretary Wolf’s July memo instituting restrictions on DACA is now considered invalid. According to a press release sent by DHS, the USCIS is now:

  • Considering first-time DACA applications.
  • Accepting requests for DACA renewal (two-year terms).
  • Extending deportation protection and employment authorization from one to two years (after the July memo, DACA renewals were only being approved for one year at a time).
  • Considering requests for advanced parole, which means DACA recipients may leave the U.S. for a period of time without putting their quasi-legal status in jeopardy.

A Brief Background on DACA

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals began with an executive memorandum sent by former DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano in the summer of 2012. The memo created a program, now known as DACA, that allowed some individuals unlawfully living in the U.S. to apply for two-year periods of employment authorization. In other words, successful applicants were able to obtain a Social Security Number and lawfully work in the U.S. while being shielded from deportation.

To qualify for the DACA program, Applicants must meet the following conditions:

  • You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • You 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;
  • You entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
  • You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
  • You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
  • You are at least 15 years of age at the time of filing, if you have never been in removal proceedings or if your case was terminated before your request.
    • You do not need to be 15 years of age or older at the time of your request if you are in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order.

NOTE: Those who have never been in removal proceedings as well as those in removal proceedings, with a final order of deportation, or with a voluntary departure order are eligible.

Contact Us As Soon as Possible

If you believe that you’re eligible for the DACA program, you need to act quickly. Coming to us sooner rather than later could help you avoid being caught in a backlog of applications that is likely to come. Additionally, the current administration has communicated its intention to appeal Judge Garaufis’ ruling while the incoming administration has signaled its intentions to expand protections for certain undocumented immigrants.

Rotella & Hernandez is passionate about keeping families together through any (legal) means necessary. Ready to get started? Call our firm at 305-596-3618 today to see how we can help you.