Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been controversial and misunderstood since it began in 2012. While many believe DACA provides permanent residence or citizenship for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, the policy defers deportation on a two-year basis. Currently,, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is currently prohibited from approving initial DACA requests and issuing employment authorization. Renewal applications are still eligible for process..
What Is DACA?
DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.” The policy allows people who came to the United States as young children without authorization to attend state universities or higher education institutions, apply for financial aid, get work visas, and participate legally in the structure and organization of the country where they grew up.
Undocumented students, workers, and others need DACA to continue to live in the U.S., often the only home they’ve ever known, without the constant threat of deportation to a foreign country where they usually have very little connection and may not even speak the language.
How Does DACA Work?
DACA offers a two-year deferment of deportation procedures for undocumented residents with DACA status. Applicants must apply every two years for renewal, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers each application on a case-by-case basis.
Who Is Eligible for DACA?
Only certain people are eligible for DACA status. You must be of a certain age, have arrived in the U.S. under specific circumstances, and be in otherwise good legal standing as a member of American society. Contact a Connecticut DACA attorney to learn more about your eligibility.
To be eligible for DACA, you must meet the following criteria:
- Birth date on or after June 16, 1981
- Arrival in the U.S. before your 16th birthday
- Continuous residence in the U.S since June 15, 2007
- Physical presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 (when DACA became effective) and when you filed for DACA status
- Not having had a lawful immigration status since June 15, 2012
- Current enrollment in school, graduation from high school or equivalent GED certification, or honorable discharge veteran from a branch of the U.S. Military
- No conviction of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors
- Non-threat to national security or public safety
Is There a Path to Citizenship for People With DACA Status?
Undocumented immigrants with DACA status cannot apply for a green card or U.S. citizenship in most cases. You must leave the U.S. and apply to re-enter through the usual legal channels. Upon re-entry to the U.S., you must reside in the country for the appropriate period according to your immigrant visa stipulations before applying for permanent residence.
There could be exceptions for DACA recipients who originally entered the country legally on a visa, overstayed their visa expiration, and are married to a U.S. permanent resident or citizen. Other exceptions exist based on marriage, such as if you entered the country illegally as a child but have a travel permit or applied for DACA before or within 180 days of turning 18.
What if a DACA-Eligible Person Gets Deported?
If you get deported before applying for or renewing your DACA status, you must remain outside of the U.S. for 10 years before applying to re-enter legally. Staying up-to-date with your DACA status is essential to remain in the country without the threat of deportation.
Contact an Experienced Connecticut DACA Attorney Today
DACA is an important program for many undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. To speak with an experienced Connecticut DACA attorney with our firm, call the Law Offices of James A. Welcome at 203-753-7300 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.