DACA: Recommendations for Current Recipients, Applicants, and Renewals
Contributor: Van T. Doan
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) remains in place as of June 2017, but planned expansions to the program will not go forward, and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program is ending. U.S. immigration law has undergone numerous shifts already during the current administration, and more could be ahead. Bearing in mind that policies and laws are subject to change, here is the current lay of the land, and some advice for individuals who currently receive DACA, as well as those considering a new or renewed application for DACA
Advice for Current DACA Recipients
If you are a current DACA recipient, you can continue to enjoy the benefits, including work authorization, that accompany DACA. However, that does not mean that you are immune from governmental action. Immigration authorities have the right to detain you, and even terminate your DACA under certain circumstances, so do everything you can to avoid even the appearance of illegal behavior.
Some situations in which authorities may detain you include a conviction or even an arrest for any criminal offense, even an apparently minor one. Traffic offenses fall under the category of criminal offenses that may affect your DACA. It may seem absurd that rolling through a stop sign could affect your ability to remain in the country, but it's true, so act with an abundance of caution.
Admitting to a crime or to being part of a gang (even if you're no longer a member) can also affect DACA. Likewise, if you admit to fraud against a government agency (such as providing false information to receive Medicaid or food assistance), your DACA can be revoked. Lastly, any determination that you pose a threat to national security or public safety can result in termination of your DACA. The bottom line: keep a low profile and stay out of trouble, avoiding people and situations that could place you at risk of arrest.
Guidance for New DACA Applicants
If you are not currently a DACA recipient, but are eligible, it's understandable that you are interested in receiving the protections the program offers. However, given the current climate, applying for DACA protection for the first time could call unwanted attention to your status (or lack thereof). Therefore, it is recommended that you submit a new DACA application (and the accompanying $495 fee) only after consulting with, and on the advice of, an experienced immigration attorney.
An attorney may advise you not to take the risk of applying for DACA if you have a history of being deported or a previous order to be deported; previous criminal charges or arrests (even if the charges were dropped or you were not convicted); criminal convictions; or a history of fraud.
Be advised that even if your attorney advises you to proceed with an application for DACA, it will take six months to process. During that time, if the program is terminated, you will lose your application fee. Also, federal authorities will have your personal information, but you will not yet have the assurance of protection that DACA offers.
Considerations for DACA Renewals
If you currently have DACA but know that you will need to apply for renewal soon, you should plan to do so five months before your DACA expires. As of this writing, applications for DACA renewals are still being received, processed and accepted; the upside of a prompt renewal application is the renewal of your work authorization in the U.S for another two years.
One potential downside is that if the program is changed or terminated after you have applied for renewal and submitted your fee, you will not be refunded the money. Another risk is that if you have any criminal history, even if it did not previously prevent your receiving DACA, it might be enough to keep a renewal application from being successful, leaving you exposed. As with new DACA applications, consult with an experienced immigration attorney before submitting an application and fee for renewal.
General Considerations Regarding DACA
In an ideal world, having DACA should provide you with peace of mind. Unfortunately, you need to take steps to safeguard that peace. This is not the time to apply to travel out of the country under advance parole or emergency parole, especially if you have criminal charges or convictions in your background. The risk may simply be too great.
If you have DACA or are considering applying for DACA, you are probably eager for reassurance about your ability to remain in the United States. Do not let that make you susceptible to the promises of unscrupulous immigration service providers. Confirm the credentials of anyone with whom you work. A reputable attorney or service provider will not hesitate to give you a written contract and receipts for payments.
Categories: Immigration Law