Frequently Asked Questions about Expanded DACA

Background

On November 20, 2014, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and parents of lawful permanent residents (LPRs). The president also announced an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for youth who came to the United States as children. Under a directive from the secretary of DHS, these parents and youth may be granted a type of temporary permission to stay in the U.S. called “deferred action.” According to the Department of Homeland Security, these programs are expected to help over four million people.

Currently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not accepting applications for the expanded DACA program for youth or the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. A federal district court in Texas issued an order which currently blocks the implementation of the DAPA and expanded DACA programs. This means that people are not able to apply for DAPA or expanded DACA until a court issues an order allowing the initiatives to go forward.

USCIS continues to accept renewal applications or initial applications from people who qualify under the DACA criteria announced in June 2012.
What is deferred action?
Deferred action is administrative relief from deportation which authorizes a non-U.S. citizen to remain in the U.S. temporarily. The individual may also apply for a work permit for the period during which he or she has deferred action.
Deferred action is granted on a case-by-case basis. Even if the applicant meets the requirements outlined below, DHS will still make a decision whether to grant deferred action. Deferred action granted under DAPA and the expanded DACA is valid for three years and can be renewed.
A grant of deferred action is temporary. However, a person granted deferred action is considered by the federal government to be lawfully present in the U.S. for as long as the grant of deferred action status.
Who is eligible for the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program?
To be eligible for deferred action under DAPA, the applicant must:
  • Be the parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Have continuously lived in the U.S. since January 1, 2010.
  • Have been present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014. It’s also likely that the applicant will need to be present in the U.S. every day from Nov. 20, 2014, until the DAPA application is filed.
  • Not have a lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014. To meet this requirement, the applicant (1) must have entered the U.S. without papers, or, if entered lawfully, lawful immigration status must have expired before November 20, 2014; and (2) must not have a lawful immigration status at the time DAPA is applied for.
  • Have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses, including any felonies and some misdemeanors.
Will USCIS conduct a background check as part of a DAPA or DACA request?
Yes. Background checks involve running the biographic and biometric information against a variety of databases used by the federal government.
What are the government fees for a DAPA application?
The application fee is $465, which consists of $380 for the employment authorization application and $85 for fingerprints. It is not yet known whether fee waivers will be available. Fee exemptions may be available in very limited circumstances.
What are the government fees for an expanded DACA application?
The application fee is $465, which consists of $380 for the employment authorization application and $85 for fingerprints. Fee waivers are not available. Fee exemptions may be available in very limited circumstances.
Is there a requirement to show filing of federal income tax returns under DAPA?
No. The initial DAPA application does not require showing proof of previously filed tax returns. However, if tax returns have been filed, they may be submitted as evidence showing continuous U.S. presence. It may also be a positive discretionary factor in a DAPA application. Renewal applicants should be expected to show filed tax returns.

All workers, regardless of immigration, must comply with the rules and regulations of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The administration has emphasized that DAPA recipients, once they have received valid employment authorization, will be able to pay taxes.

DAPA applicants should continue paying taxes or begin to if not already paying. Read more about social security numbers here.
Will a prior criminal arrest prevent a successful application for relief?
Maybe. Prior criminal history must generally be disclosed on the application (the government will conduct a background check). The following may disqualify an applicant:
  • Conviction of a felony;
  • Conviction of a “significant misdemeanor”;
  • Conviction of three or more misdemeanors; or
  • USCIS determines the applicant is a risk to national security or public safety.
What is considered a “significant misdemeanor”?
A misdemeanor is a crime for which the maximum term of imprisonment is one year or less but more than five days. A single “significant misdemeanor” will make the applicant ineligible for deferred action.

DHS considers the following to be “significant misdemeanors”:
  • an offense of domestic violence;
  • sexual abuse or exploitation;
  • burglary;
  • unlawful possession or use of a firearm;
  • drug distribution or trafficking;
  • driving under the influence.
These offenses are considered “significant misdemeanors” regardless of the length of the sentence that is imposed. For offenses not listed above, a “significant misdemeanor” is any sentence of more than 90 days in custody. This does not include a suspended sentence.
What types of offenses count towards the “three or more misdemeanor offenses”?
Any misdemeanor (not meeting the definition of “significant misdemeanor”) for which you are sentenced to at least one day in custody counts toward the “three or more misdemeanor offenses.”

DHS will not count minor traffic offenses as misdemeanors, unless they are drug or alcohol related.

DHS will not count immigration-related offenses created under state immigration law as being misdemeanor offenses or felonies. (For example, Arizona, Alabama, and other states have passed laws that make it a crime for undocumented people to engage in many everyday actions; these crimes will not be counted as felonies or misdemeanors.)

DHS will look at all the circumstances in a case to decide whether a person who has committed a criminal offense will be given deferred action.
Is DAPA or expanded DACA available for applicants who have a deportation case, but who are not detained?
Yes. People who are not detained will be able to submit a deferred action request to USCIS even if they are currently in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order. A request should include evidence that the applicant is eligible for deferred action under the criteria outlined above.
If a DAPA or DACA request is denied, will the applicant be placed automatically in deportation proceedings?
If an applicant is denied relief under DAPA or DACA, USCIS will not refer the case to ICE unless there is an underlying criminal offense, fraud, or a threat to national security or public safety. It is against USCIS policy to refer cases to ICE where there is no evidence of fraud, a criminal offense, or a threat to public safety or national security, without exceptional circumstances.

DHS has issued a new memo describing which people are a “priority” for deportation. Our FAQ on changes to immigration enforcement provides a list of deportation priorities. People who don’t fit the new priority criteria are not priorities for removal.

Before you request deferred action, however, it is really important that you first consult with a reputable attorney or legal services program if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any kind of crime.

Is foreign travel allowed under deferred action?
Yes. Travel abroad is permitted, but only if “advance parole” is granted. Advance parole requires application and permission from DHS to leave the U.S. for certain purposes, such as visiting a relative who lives abroad and is sick. While DACA recipients may apply, it is not yet known whether DAPA recipients will also be able to apply for advance parole.
Can DACA/DAPA Recipients Obtain a Georgia Driver’s License?
Yes. Recipients are eligible to for Georgia driver’s licenses. A grant of deferred action is listed in the federal Real ID Act as a basis of eligibility for a license that is recognized for certain federal purposes.

For more information, see www.nilc.org/driverlicenses.html.

Can DACA/DAPA Recipients Get Georgia In-State Tuition for Higher Level Education?
Unfortunately, Georgia laws do not recognize DACA/DAPA recipients as residents for in-state tuition purposes.

How is DAPA or expanded DACA different from the DREAM Act or comprehensive immigration reform legislation that has been proposed in the past?
The DAPA and expanded DACA announcements came from DHS, which is one of the agencies within the federal government’s executive branch. DHS has the power to make certain decisions about the enforcement of immigration laws. The executive branch does not have the power to create a path to permanent lawful status and citizenship. Only Congress, through its legislative authority, can grant that.
Who is eligible for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program?
To be eligible for the expanded DACA program, the applicant must have:
  • Arrived in the United States before the 16th birthday.
  • Lived in the U.S. continuously since January 1, 2010.
  • Presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and on every day since August 15, 2012.
  • Graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or “be in school” on the date the deferred action application is submitted. Click here for more information about the “in school” requirement.
  • No conviction of certain criminal offenses. Click here for more information about “criminal offenses” restrictions.
What are the requirements to qualify under DAPA?
Specific instructions about what documents will be acceptable are pending. However, the following are some general guidelines of what to expect.

To qualify under DAPA, the applicant will need to establish:
  • Identity
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident son or daughter, and
  • Continuous residence in the U.S. since January 1, 2010.
In order to prove continuous residence, the applicant should gather documents such as financial records (lease agreements, phone bills, credit card bills), medical records, and school records (diplomas, GED certificates, report cards, school transcripts). As a rule of thumb, consider gathering at least one document for each 12-month period since January 1, 2010, until the time the request is submitted for deferred action.

If no documentation is available, it is possible to obtain affidavits from at least two people who have personal knowledge that the applicant was present in the U.S. during that gap.

In order to prove a relationship with a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, a copy of the U.S. citizen son’s or daughter’s birth certificate or passport, naturalization certificate, or green card is accepted.

If the applicant has ever been arrested, copies of criminal history should be requested from the State of Georgia and from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is also advisable to obtain a letter from each court describing what the judge ultimately decided in each case. This type of letter is often referred to as a “disposition letter” or “certificate of disposition.”

If there are any outstanding warrants, it is generally advisable to consult with an attorney about the best way to proceed.
What are the requirements for expanded DACA?
To qualify for expanded DACA, the applicant will need to establish identity and continuous residence in the U.S. since January 1, 2010.

In order to prove continuous U.S. presence since January 1, 2010, documents must be provided proving the applicant was in the U.S. during that period. It is important to gather documents such as financial records (lease agreements, phone bills, credit card bills), medical records, and school records (diplomas, GED certificates, report cards, school transcripts).

You can gather the same type of documents to prove that you were physically in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.

As a rule of thumb, consider gathering at least one document for each 12-month period since January 1, 2010 until the time you submit a request for deferred action. If you do not have documents to establish that you were in the U.S. for a significant part of the period between January 2010 and the present time (in other words, if there is a gap in your documentation), consider gathering affidavits from at least two people who have personal knowledge that you were in the U.S. during that gap.

If you have ever been arrested, you should request a copy of your criminal history from your state or from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You should also request, from each court in which you had a criminal case, a letter describing what the judge ultimately decided in each case. This letter may be referred to as a “disposition letter” or “certificate of disposition.”

If it’s possible that you have an outstanding warrant, we suggest that you do not go in person to request any of these records. If you know you have or even think you may have an outstanding warrant, you should consult with an attorney about what would be the best way to proceed.

What if some of my documents are in Spanish or another language?
All documents that you submit to USCIS that are not in English have to be translated into English. You can do the translation yourself if you speak both English and the language the document is written in. At the end of each document you translate from another language into English, you must submit a dated and signed statement certifying that you are competent to translate from that language into English. There may be specific instructions for how to certify that you are competent to do the translation in the forms for expanded deferred action.


What is the period of validity for deferred action?
Deferred action under expanded DACA or DAPA will be granted for a renewable period of three years. Work permits will also be granted for a renewable period of three years.
May current work permits under DACA be replaced by a new three year permit?
USCIS is exploring ways to extend two-year work permits currently issued to DACA recipients. No more information is available at this time.
How do current ICE detainees apply for benefits under DAPA or expanded DACA?

People currently in an immigration detention or under an order of supervision should alert the appropriate staff in your facility as described in the “orientation handbook” provided by ICE. The ICE Community and Detainee Helpline may also be contacted at 1-888-351-4024 (staffed 8 a.m.- 8 p.m., Mon.- Fri.) or the Law Enforcement Support Center hotline at 1-855-448-6903 (staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), or by email message to ERO.INFO@ice.dhs.gov.
Is the information in a DAPA or DACA application shared with other government agencies?

The information in a deferred action application, including information about family members and guardians, is not shared with ICE or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of deportation except for when the request contains evidence of fraud related to the request, or of a criminal offense, or of a threat to public safety or national security.

However, the information in your request may be shared with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than deportation. Some of the reasons for sharing this information include identifying or preventing fraudulent claims, national security purposes, or investigating or prosecuting a criminal offense.
What will happen if the DAPA and DACA programs do not get renewed in three years?

Submitting personal information to USCIS can be scary. Nobody knows whether the program will be renewed in three years. However, it is unlikely that the government has the resources to deport every undocumented person in the United States. However, if DAPA or DACA is granted, the USCIS has basically made the decision that the person is a low priority for deportation.
Can a recipient get a Social Security number if approved under DACA or DAPA?
Yes. Once a work permit is issued, application may be made for a Social Security number.

To locate a nearby Social Security office, visit www.ssa.gov.
Does DAPA or expanded DACA, make a person eligible for health care and other public benefits?

Generally, no. People who get deferred action will be considered “lawfully present.” Under current law, many categories of lawfully present individuals are not eligible, generally, for SNAP (what used to be called “food stamps”), TANF (what used to be called “welfare”), SSI (Supplemental Security Income), CHIP (the Children’s Health Insurance Program) or Medicaid. People with deferred action are eligible only for Medicaid emergency services.

However, states have the option to provide, with their own funds, CHIP and Medicaid to children under age 21 and/or to pregnant women. The Obama administration specifically excluded people who obtain deferred action from participating in Obamacare (health insurance, including subsidies, available under the federal Affordable Care Act).
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