Immigration Law: What is DACA?

Over the last several years, there have been countless references to “DACA” in the news, but unless you are directly affected by this specific governmental action, you may not understand exactly what is being referred to.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is a specific waiver that allows young people who were brought into the United States from another country without having gone through the legal immigration process the ability to avoid legal removal from the country. In order to qualify for DACA, individuals must meet specific eligibility requirements.

In order to qualify for DACA, those who are eligible and who are either in removal proceedings or have received final removal orders need to fill out a DACA application. The form should also be filled out as a protective measure by those who qualify but have never faced removal proceedings. DACA has become a highly politicized issue.

The criteria for DACA eligibility includes:

  • Applicants must have been under the age of 16 when they arrived in the United States
  • Applicants must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Applicants must have lived in the United States continuously from June 15, 2007 to the present
  • Applicants must either have entered the United States without inspection prior to June 15, 2012 or their legal immigration status must have expired by that date
  • In order to qualify, applicants must have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, as well as on the day that the application for DACA is submitted
  • Applicants must be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained their GED or have served and been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces
  • Applicants cannot have been convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor or more than three misdemeanors
  • Applicants must not pose a threat to national security or public safety
  • Applicants must be either 15 years old to apply or be under 15 and facing removal proceedings or a final removal order or voluntary departure order.

Applying for DACA is something that should be carefully considered under the current administration and legal climate. For guidance on the correct steps for you to take, contact our DACA lawyers today.