What Are the Qualifications for DACA?

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It is a United States policy that was enacted in June of 2012 by then-President Barack Obama for the specific purpose of providing a discretionary, limited immigration benefit for undocumented individuals who came into the United States as children. The law applies to all those who meet its qualifications, regardless of whether or not they are or ever have been in a removal proceeding, or even if they are currently under final orders of removal. Though DACA does not provide a direct path to citizenship or lawful permanent residence, it does allow them to apply for employment authorization.

To qualify as a DACA recipient, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • Arrived in the United States while under the age of 16
  • Have lived in the United States continuously from June 15, 2007 through June 15, 2012, though brief absences for humanitarian purposes are excluded from this tally
  • Have entered the U.S. without inspection or have fallen out of lawful visa status prior to June 15, 2012
  • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of applying for DACA status with USCIS meet one of these criteria:
  • Currently in school
  • Graduated from high school
  • Obtained a GED
  • Been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces


  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor or more than three misdemeanors of any kind. Significant misdemeanors include burglary; domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; unlawful possession of firearms; driving under the influence; drug distribution or trafficking; any other misdemeanor for which a sentence of more than 90 days in jail was imposed (not including suspended sentences or time held pursuant to an immigration detainer).
  • Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety

If you believe that you qualify for DACA and would like to submit an application, be prepared to provide documentation proving that you meet the criteria listed above, as well as to submit to a biographic and biometric background check. Keep in mind that individuals applying for DACA must be at least 15 years old unless they are in removal proceedings, have a final order of removal or an order of voluntary departure.

If you would like legal assistance in applying for DACA or understanding your rights, we can help. Contact us today to set up a time to discuss your options.