If you received a work permit and temporary right to remain in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, that grant was temporary. Under the DACA program as it was first set up, DACA status was set to expire after two years. The new DACA program to begin in 2015 makes DACA status good for three years.
Although DACA status is temporary, you may be able to renew it (in additional two-year increments, or additional three-year increments when the new program goes into effect in 2015), for as long as the DACA program remains in effect.
The first round of renewals began in June of 2014. This article will detail the steps required to renew your DACA status.
First, Make Sure You Still Fit the DACA Eligibility Criteria
The basic criteria for DACA eligibility are set forth in Nolo’s article, “Who Qualifies for Deferred Action as an Immigrant Student or Graduate (DACA).” In order to renew your status, you must continue to meet the criteria stated there.
And there are some additional criteria you’ll need to meet for DACA renewal, including that you:
- haven’t left the U.S. since August 15, 2012 (at least, not without first obtaining permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), in the form of what’s called “Advance Parole.” (See “DACA Recipients: How to Apply for a Travel Document (Advance Parole).”)
- have continuously lived (“resided”) in the U.S. since submitting your initial DACA application, and
- haven’t been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors; and haven't done anything suggesting that you present a threat to U.S. national security or public safety (such as being a known member of a gang).
You should absolutely see an attorney if you have been convicted of any crime.
Also see an attorney if you no longer meet the educational requirements; for example, you failed to continue on your path to a GED. In such as case, you may no longer be DACA-eligible. (Interestingly enough, USCIS doesn’t actually require you to show that you’re still in school or have otherwise met the educational criteria when renewing – but the agency does want to be told if you’ve failed to do so.)
If you got DACA under the program before it was changed in 2015 and later turned 31 or older, you may be wondering if you’re eligible to renew. The answer is yes. The rule for you is simple: you can renew as long as you were under 31 as of June 15, 2012 (that is, you were born after June 15, 1981)—which you had to be to get DACA. Under the changed DACA program that will start in 2015, there is no more age limit, so for people applying to renew after the new DACA program goes into effect, age is not even an issue.
Haven’t applied for DACA before, but meet the criteria? You can still file an initial application, for as long as the program remains in effect.
Get the Timing of Your Application Right
If you apply more than 150 days before your work permit (EAD) expires, USCIS will return and reject your application. But if you apply too close to your expiration date, your EAD could expire before you're approved, leading to possible loss of your job and definitely to your having "unlawful status" on your immigration record. The agency recommends applying around 120 days before your EAD expiration date. The National Immigration Law Center provides a helpful calculator to figure this date out.
Forms to Fill Out for DACA Renewal
The correct forms to submit include USCIS Form I-821-D , Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (also used for initial applications) and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, accompanied by a worksheet called Form I-765WS. (Click the links to access free downloads of these forms on the USCIS website.)
On Form I-821D, be sure to check Box 2 in Part 1, which says “Renewal Request.”
On Question 16, regarding “Race,” you may notice that you’re given fewer choices than were formerly on the DACA application form. That’s because USCIS is trying to conform its categories to those used by other U.S. agencies, such as the FBI. Unfortunately, they forgot to include an “other” box, so you’ll have to choose whichever box seems closest to your racial identity.
Additional instructions for filling out this form can be obtained on the Form I-821-D page of the USCIS website.
Supporting Documents to Submit With Your DACA Renewal Application
Applying to renew DACA requires far fewer supporting documents than for an original application. You are presumed to still meet many of the original criteria.
You will, however, need to provide the following for DACA renewal, relating to any changes in your situation that might make you ineligible:
- new documents indicating that you are in or have received any sort of decision on removal (deportation) proceedings in immigration court (unless your case was administratively closed)
- new documents showing that you have been charged with or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor
In addition, USCIS will take your fingerprints and conduct a check of your criminal and FBI records (if any).
Your application for DACA renewal must contain payment of the filing fees for Forms I-812D and Form I-765 as well as biometrics. The total (as of December, 2014) is $465. In some circumstances, USCIS may grant a fee exemption (waiver) for applicants who fall below the U.S. poverty line.
See an attorney is you need additional help with your DACA renewal application.