Renew DACA. Illustration.
Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

How to renew DACA: a short guide for the Deferred Action program beneficiaries

In this short guide, we will help you know how to renew DACA and maintain your immigration status in the country.

The DACA program celebrates 10 years since its launch having benefited hundreds of thousands of young people and families who have been able to obtain an immigration status that allows them to continue with their studies, open their own businesses or apply for work permits (EAD) and business licenses.

If you are one of the beneficiaries of the Deferred Action program, below we will provide you with a guide to renewing DACA so that you can clear up all your doubts and be able to apply without any inconveniences.

What is the DACA program?

The DACA or Deferred Action program was created in 2012 by the government of former President Barack Obama, with the intention of improving the immigration status of hundreds of thousands of young people who were living in the United States illegally. The program grants an immigration permit to “childhood arrivals” to the country, those people who entered the country illegally as minors, and who continue to live in the United States.

This year DACA celebrates 10 years since its launch, managing to benefit more than 800,000 migrant children and youth, also called “dreamers”, granting them legal status, the possibility of completing their studies and opening their own businesses, providing security to their families and the opportunity to apply for citizenship in the future.

DACA grants its beneficiaries an injunction from deportation and a temporary work permit (EAD) that must be renewed every two years. It also allows Dreamers to apply for a driver’s license and a Social Security number. These measures have generated a significant change in migrant families that had not been able to regularize the legal immigration status of their children.

Can I still apply for DACA?

Currently, the DACA or Deferred Action program is paused due to legal obstacles. In July 2021, a federal judge ruled to suspend the granting of new applications to the program made by applicants who applied for the first time.

According to the legal order of July 16, 2021, from that day on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will not process new DACA applications, although they will receive and retain them. Only those people who were already part of it will be able to benefit from the program.

If you were already enrolled, you must however renew DACA regularly before your status expires.

“USCIS continues to accept initial DACA applications. If you file an initial DACA application with USCIS on or after July 16, 2021, you will receive a receipt notice, and USCIS will process your payment. However, USCIS will not adjudicate your application while the court order remains in effect.”

Official USCIS statement.
Renew DACA. Illustration.

How to renew DACA?

Although it is not possible to apply for the program, Dreamers who are already beneficiaries of the program must renew their DACA application every two years, as well as their Employment Permit (EAD) if they so wish. Below we provide you with a list of requirements that must be met in order to renew DACA without problems:

  • • Not have left the country from August 15, 2012, onwards without a valid travel document (Form I-131)
  • • Continuously and permanently reside in the United States since you submitted your most recent approved DACA application
  • • Not be convicted of a felony, serious misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, or pose a threat to public safety.

The next step is to complete and submit Form I-821D (and USCIS Form I-765 to apply for a new work permit) and pay the $495 fee needed in order to renew DACA. You may also be required to provide additional documentation for your renewal application, such as additional criminal history and updated deportation or removal records.

We recommend that you send your renewal applications between 120 and 150 days before your DACA expires since the USCIS offices currently present some delays. If your application has already expired don’t worry, you can still renew DACA if less than a year has been since its expiration date. However, if more than one year has gone by, you will need to submit the renewal as if it were an initial application.

How long does the DACA renewal process take?

On average, the current wait time can take five to seven months to process and issue a DACA renewal and corresponding work permit. However, there are reports of delays in the processing times of DACA renewals, and there are even pending lawsuits in response to said delays for the beneficiaries of the program.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-5362!

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