The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, allows some categories of young adults who came to the U.S. as children to obtain a work-permit without fear of deportation.
Specifically, the program allows your removal action to be deferred.
It is important to note that this program does not allow for you to obtain legal status or help you when applying for citizenship.
In order to qualify you must:
- Have entered the U.S. before your 16th birthday
- Have been under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012
- Have not left the U.S. since June 15, 2012
- Have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and as well as when you apply to be considered under DACA
- Have entered illegally before June 15, 2012
- Be enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or obtained your GED, or have been honorably discharged veteran of either the U.S. Coast Guard or the Armed Forces
- Not be a national security or public safety threat
- Have never been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more lesser misdemeanors
The Department of Homeland Security considers a misdemeanor as “significant” if it involves burglary, domestic violence, sexual abuse, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, possession of unlawful firearms, drug distribution, or if you were sentenced to more than 90 days in jail.
Editor’s Note: This article is accurate as of its publication in June of 2015.
If You Are Granted Deferred Action
If you are granted deferred action, you will be able to work in the U.S. as long as you apply for an Employment Authorization Document.
This will only be valid for two years at a time, but can be renewed.
However, it is important to note that once you are granted this status, you can only leave the U.S. once you have applied and been granted parole in advance.
Typically, this is only given for educational, employment, or humanitarian reasons. If you leave without the parole, you will not be able to reenter the U.S.
Further, if you are granted deferred action, it is important to remember that this status can be revoked at any time.
If You Are Denied Deferred Action
Once your application has been denied, you cannot appeal the decision, but you can apply again.
The only catch is that you would have to pay for the fees again.