Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Application Process

Submitting Form I-821-D and supporting documents to USCIS in order to apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA.

By , J.D.

If you believe you qualify for deferred action based on childhood arrival to the U.S. or DACA and you've never before applied, the next step is to gather the needed materials and submit an application. This involves sending in two government forms, plus supporting evidence showing that you qualify for deferred action status, plus a fee.

Although DACA was nearly terminated by the Trump Administration, the Biden Administration attempted to bring it back in early 2021.

Forms to Submit for DACA Application

The forms you'll need to submit, whether for a renewal or (when and if it becomes possible again) a first-time application are prepared by a government agency called U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and include:

  • Form I-821-D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (in other words, a work permit or EAD), accompanied by a worksheet called Form I-765WS.

Click the above links to access free downloads of these forms on the USCIS website. You must apply for a work permit even if you don't plan to work. In any case, it's a handy form of photo identification.

Documents to Submit for DACA Application

It's important to supply supporting documents to show evidence that you meet all the eligibility criteria, including proof of your identity, age, entry date in the U.S., academic record, continuous physical presence in the United States since June 15, 2007 up to when you applied, and presence in the U.S on June 15, 2012.

Such evidence might include:

  • copy of your birth certificate, with English language translation
  • copy of your passport or other photo identity document
  • copy of your visa to the U.S. and Form I-94 (if you overstayed)
  • past documents from U.S. immigration authorities, even if they showed you were stopped or ordered into removal proceedings
  • travel receipts, for example showing plane tickets to the U.S.
  • school records, including diplomas and GED certificates, showing dates of attendance and degrees received
  • copy of U.S. driver's license
  • personal affidavits or statements by friends, teachers, employers, religious leaders, and others in positions of authority
  • U.S. tax records
  • bank, credit card, and other financial records showing activity in the U.S.
  • U.S. store, restaurant, and online shopping receipts in your name and/or indicating items were sent to your address
  • Facebook check-ins or Tweets indicating presence in the U.S.
  • medical and dental records showing your presence at U.S. doctors' offices or hospitals
  • records of working for U.S. employers, and
  • U.S. military records.

These are simply examples. You should also think about what other documents might show that you meet the criteria.

If, for example, you won a swimming contest at a U.S. summer camp, a copy of your certificate would be a good form of evidence of your physical presence here. Some people have even submitted traffic or speeding tickets as evidence (though any more serious run-in with police might be problematic for your DACA eligibility, so talk to a lawyer.)

Fee to Submit for DACA

The fee for submitting the DACA application is (as of mid-2022) $465, which includes the standard $85 biometrics (fingerprinting) fee for a background check and the EAD (work permit) fee.

Sending Your DACA Application to USCIS

You must file your application by mail, not in person or online. USCIS provides addresses on its website. The exact one you'll use depends on where you live and whether you use the U.S. postal service or some other carrier such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL.

Also, you can submit a DACA application if you are already in deportation proceedings, but the procedures will be somewhat different. Definitely get an attorney's help with this.

Get Legal Help

If you have any doubts about your eligibility for DACA, the latest rules on who can apply, or whether you should apply even when it becomes possible, getting help from an attorney is an especially good idea. That's even more true if you have any sort of criminal history, given the bar against applicants who have committed significant misdemeanors or more serious crimes.

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