Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): Application Process

Submitting Form I-821-D and supporting documents to USCIS

**WARNING: The below article refers to a program that the Trump Administration is in the process of phasing out. Unless Congress takes action, no new DACA applications will be accepted in the future, and only limited renewals will be allowed. For details, see "Trump Ends DACA Program for Young Immigrants: What's Next?".

If you believe you qualify for deferred action based on childhood arival to the U.S., or DACA--as described in Who Qualifies for Deferred Action as an Immigrant Student or Graduate (DACA)--the next step is to submit an application. The application process for deferred action involves submitting two government forms, plus supporting evidence showing that you qualify for deferred action status, plus a fee.

The first day applications were accepted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the original DACA program was August 15, 2012. In November 2014, changes to the program, including modified eligibility requirements, were announced, and a revised application process will be available in early 2015. You can submit an application even if you are already in deportation proceedings, but the procedures will be somewhat different – definitely get an attorney’s help with this.

The forms to submit are called Form I-821-D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, 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.)

As for supporting documents, you will need to show evidence that you meet all the criteria, including proof of your identity, age, entry date in the U.S., academic record, presence in the U.S on June 15, 2012, and continuous physical presence in the United States. Such evidence might include:

  • birth certificate
  • copy of passport or other photo identity document
  • copy of visa and Form I-94 (if you overstayed)
  • past documents from 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 authority
  • tax records
  • bank, credit card, and other financial records showing activity in the 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 -- talk to a lawyer.)

The fee for this application under the program before it was changed in 2015 was $465, which included the standard $85 biometrics (fingerprinting) fee for a background check and $380 fee for the EAD. The fee may change under the revised program. In limited circumstances, USCIS may grant a fee exemption for applicants who fall below theU.S.poverty line.

You can also renew your DACA status. It's recommended to do so 120 days before your EAD is scheduled to expire. For more information on this, see "How to Renew Your DACA Status."

Get Legal Help

If you have any doubts about your eligibility for DACA or whether you should apply, getting help from an attorney is an especially good idea. That’s even more true if you have any sort of criminal history, even if it was a juvenile conviction or the record has been sealed or expunged.

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