The Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows its beneficiaries to avoid deportation and receive work permits on a temporary basis, subject to renewal every two years. It is an uncertain status because it can be canceled, at least with respect to new applications at any time.
If you currently enjoy DACA status and wish to file for renewal, you need to gather certain documents and perform certain tasks. Complications might arise if your initial DACA status had already expired before you submit your renewal application, although a late filing will not necessarily doom your renewal application. Speak to an experienced immigration lawyer if you have any doubts.
Eligibility for Renewal
A current DACA beneficiary may renew their status for another two years by filing the appropriate paperwork, as long as you still meet the initial guidelines and the following requirements:
- You did not leave the US any time after August 14th, 2012 without first obtaining advance parole;
- You have resided in the United States continuously since the submission of your last DACA request (initial DACA status or renewal);.
- You have not been charged with (i) a felony (ii) a serious misdemeanor or (iii) multiple minor misdemeanors.
- You pose no threat to national security or public safety.
To assemble your DACA renewal application, you will need to gather the following documents:
- USCIS Form I-821D, from USCIS, the basic DACA application form;
- USCIS Form I-765WS, which the USCIS uses to determine whether you have an economic need to work (this might be cast into doubt if you are a minor living with your parents, for example);
- USCIS Form I-765, application for a work permit;
- USCIS Form G-1145, a request for electronic notification if your petition is successful (optional);
- A cover letter;
- photocopies of both sides of your work permit;
- photocopies of any supporting evidence of a previous DACA approval;
- photocopy of your initial DACA application;
- photocopy of any previous DACA renewal application(s);
- Two passport-sized photos;
- The filing fee ($495 at the time of this writing), in the form of a money order, made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and
- A photocopy of your entire DACA renewal packet for your own records and for your next renewal application;
All forms must be completed and signed in black ink. You will need to send the entire application package, excluding the photocopies you prepared for your own files, to the appropriate USCIS service center in California, Nebraska, or Vermont, depending on where you live.
Pitfalls for the Unwary
- A late application. Given the uncertainty of the DACA program, you may want to renew it as early as possible. Considering the current political turmoil over DACA, you may need to consult with an immigration attorney on the timing of your renewal application.
- Using an outdated form from the previous year. You will need to download the up-to-date versions found on the USCIS website, the page dedicated to DACA renewal.
- Failing to read or follow the instructions for the forms. Most applications come with their own instructions that will tell you how to complete them (even the instructions include certain ambiguities, unfortunately).
- Failing to seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to help you with your application.
Making It Easy for the USCIS: Writing Your Cover Letter
Details matter and you can significantly improve your odds of approval by carefully organizing your application packet in a manner that makes it easy for a USCIS officer to read and quickly locate what he needs. Page 1 of your application should be a cover letter addressed to the USCIS.
Your cover letter should clearly explain what you are seeking (DACA renewal) and include a table of contents. Check with an experienced immigration lawyer for anything else you might want to include. Your cover letter should be completely free of grammatical or spelling errors, even if you are not a native English speaker.