DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

As of November 2014, the Obama Administration has updated DREAM Act principles:

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) allows illegal foreigners who were brought to the U.S. as children to remain in the U.S. and not to be deported.

DACA Waiver Requirements

To qualify the child must

  1. have entered the U.S. before the age of 16,
  2. be illegal in the U.S. on June 15, 2012,
  3. continuously reside in the U.S. since January 1, 2010, and until now (note: in some cases, short trips out of the U.S. can be o.k.),
  4. are either now in school or have completed high school (or GED type program), or else have served in the military (note: you may enroll in a high school equivalency program and complete the GED exam. It can include other types of schooling designed to further post-secondary education, or provide vocational training. For a GED program, search online for Department of Education in your state.)
  5. and not be targeted as a priority for removal (deportation).

Reasons for Deportation

Targeted foreigners who are a priority for removal and should not receive DACA typically include those who

  1. commit 3 or more minor (misdemeanor) offenses,
  2. commit a serious crimes or any “significant misdemeanor”, including domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking, or driving under the influence, or if not an offense listed above, one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of 90 days or more,
  3. entered the U.S. on or after January 1, 2014,
  4. have a final deportation removal order on or after January 1, 2014, or
  5. have significantly abused their visa or the visa waiver (ESTA) program.

Opportunities

Visa abuse means the USCIS decides whether or not to grant deferment. Have your matter reviewed by a licensed attorney to increase chances of success. DACA must be renewed every three (3) years. It includes work authorization, but not international travel. In some states, DACA can be used to obtain a driver’s license.

It can be possible to apply separately for international travel privileges for good cause, such as to visit a sick relative.

This policy does not grant lawful residence to the child. It is not a change in law. It is a policy change by the President to stop deportations for this group brought to the U.S. as children at no fault of their own and allow them to remain in the U.S. without the fear of deportation. It is stops young adults from accruing “unlawful presence” after the age of 18 years.

DACA Pitfalls

DACA carries some risks. You should not trust the U.S. government to act favorably on your case. Immigration officers are paid to find problems and deny. The manner of entry is important. Whether the foreigner has worked before now can be a problem.

When I screen cases, I often find immigration benefits for the foreigner that they did not expect. I often spot opportunities for foreign family members to obtain green cards. It helps to have a case assessment by an experienced immigration attorney.

Allan Scott Lolly

managing attorney

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