I’m considering submitting an application for DACA. I’ve been putting it off, but really need to find a decent job, and for that, I need a work permit. I think I will qualify, and I don’t have any criminal record, but the idea of telling the U.S. government that I’m here illegally still makes me very nervous.
Worse yet, someone told me that the immigration office might call me in for an interview on my application. Is this true? What happens if they deny it? Will I be arrested on the spot?
It is possible that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will call you in for an interview on your DACA application—but the agency chooses to do this in only a small minority of cases. The ones chosen may be at random, for quality control purposes, or they may be because they’re concerned about possible fraud, or the fingerprint check turned up a possible criminal record.
So if your record is truly clean, your chances of being called in for an interview are low. You can help ensure that you won’t be called in by doing a careful job in preparing your application. Make sure all the information you provide is consistent, and that you provide all the documentation USCIS could need in order to make its decision easily. (See Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Application Process for help with this, or consult an experienced immigration attorney.)
Even if you are called in for an interview, this is not a reason to panic. USCIS interviews undocumented people all the time, and makes arrests only very rarely. (The exception might be in an egregious criminal case.) And even if USCIS wants to deny your case, it is likely to give you more time to provide additional documents proving your story first.
As with the application itself, you can help make sure everything goes smoothly by planning ahead. Go over your application again, check for any mistakes, commit the important dates to memory, and understand what the DACA requirements are and what you need to show in order to qualify. Again, it’s worth hiring an attorney if this seems like too much to take on alone. Many attorneys handle immigration matters on a flat-fee basis, so you’ll know in advance exactly how much you will pay.