The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order was signed by President Obama and issued in June 2012. This order offers eligible immigrants protection from deportation for a certain period. It also comes with a work permit by filing Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), and a social security number, which allows such immigrants to seek employment in the United States.
Anyone applying for DACA, whether for the first time or to renew status, must file USCIS Form I-821D, also known as Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Essentially, Form I-821D is filed by eligible applicants of the DACA program to request an exemption from deportation. Usually, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a government agency that oversees the process of immigrating into the United States, considers deportation cases individually, thus the need for this application.
There are various steps involved in the successful submission of your DACA request. These steps are detailed below.
1. Check The Criteria For DACA Eligibility
The first step in applying for DACA is to understand the minimum eligibility requirements. To be eligible for DACA, you need to:
• Have been under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012
• Have entered the United States before turning 16 years
• Have continuously resided in the United States since June 2007, up to the present time
• Have been physically present in the United States on June 25, 2012
• Be previously undocumented (having no lawful status).
• Be currently enrolled in a school program, graduated, or discharged from the U.S. armed forces honorably.
• Not be convicted of certain crimes that pose a threat to national security and the public
2. Check The Criteria For Form I-821D Eligibility
To be able to file this form, you must fit in one of the following categories:
• Have not been in any removal proceedings before
• Have been in removal proceedings that were stopped by an immigration judge
• Have an adjourned or closed case and are seeking to renew your DACA status
3. Get A Legal Consultant
It is important to seek the professional opinion of an immigration lawyer or that of the Department of Justice before submitting your DACA application. The intervention of an immigration attorney is necessary, especially if you have any pending charges or have previously been on the wrong side of the law.
4. Get Your Documents Ready
Before applying for DACA and filing your Form I-821D, carefully review the USCIS instructions listed for collecting your pre-application documents.
These include documents that demonstrate that you meet the stated requirements for consideration for DACA.
Some of the required documents include the following:
Identification Documents: These include identification documents and passports from the country you immigrated from, birth certificates that bear photos, school I.D.s, and other government immigration documents with your name and photo.
Proof of your arrival in the U.S. before you were 16. These may include stamped passports, U.S. school records, dated travel records, and registration licenses
Proof of your immigration status: These include deportation or removal order documents indicating continuing removal proceedings.
Proof of your physical presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012: These may include utility bills, school, and employment records, tax receipts, and bank transactions.
5. Prepare Your Application Fees
A fee of $495 is applicable to all DACA requests and may be paid via check or money order.
6. Download Your Form I-821D
It is important that you visit the USCIS website for the latest and updated versions of this form. Applications filed on outdated forms will be rejected.
7. Carefully And Correctly Fill Out Your Application
Before filling out your Form I-841D, go through the instructions listed on the USCIS website carefully.
You may consider the following listed tips while filling out your form.
• Answer all the questions honestly and correctly
• Include all the necessary supporting documents as requested on the form
• Keep a copy of your application for your records
• Write down your full name and date of birth at the back of the photos you include in the application
• Sign all the forms
8. How To File Form I-821D
To file Form I-821D completely and accurately, do not forget to state ‘Not Applicable’ or (N/A) where necessary. You must also include all the dates requested and if unsure, you are allowed to estimate. Leaving any section blank, especially where dates are involved, may put your application at risk of rejection. Below is an overview of the information required to file Form I-821D.
Part 1: Information About The Applicant
In this section, you will type in your full name as it appears on your birth certificate, identification card, or passport. You will also indicate your current mailing address and provide evidence of your immigration status. Other required details include your gender, marital status, race, and your social security number if you have already been assigned one.
Part 2: Travel And Contact Information
This section seeks to ascertain your continuous residence in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. You will also fill out your current address and provide your travel information, including any departures you have made from the U.S. and the reasons for your trips.
Part 3: First-Time Requests
This section only applies to applicants making an initial request for DACA. Questions in this section are meant to assess your eligibility. They cover your qualifications for DACA, dates of entry into the U.S., and border crossing points.
Part 4: Criminal, National Security, And Public Safety Information
This section requires that you indicate whether you have ever been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanors. You will also state previous arrests, if any, and provide explanations for the above offenses.
Part 5: Statement Of Certification And Signing
The last sections of Form I-821D require your signature and that of anyone else who might have helped you in filling out your form, such as a lawyer. If an interpreter is involved, they must provide their full name, address, email, and all the other necessary details. Additionally, you will fill in your contact information, phone number, and email address. If you have any additional information that may assist the agent in charge of your application in determining your cases, such as additional names, addresses, or explanations of arrests, you can include them in this section.
9. Include A Cover Letter
Whether you are making a first-time DACA request or seeking to renew your DACA status, a cover letter is a great addition to your application package. This letter offers the USCIS agent reviewing your case a direct checklist of your application and makes it easier to assess your case.
10. Finalize And Send Your Application
Before you seal your documents, go through them thoroughly to ensure they are in order. Ensure that you have included the $495 processing fee, cover letter, completed Form I-821D, and copies of supporting documents. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) advises that you use paper clips instead of staples when putting your documents together.
11. Follow Up On Your Application
Once the USCIS receives your application and accepts your request, they will mail your receipt. You can create an online USCIS account to easily check the status of your application, receive case notifications and also update your home address if needed.
12. Biometrics Appointment
A biometrics screening is scheduled so that the USCIS may take your photo, fingerprints, and signature. Generally, biometrics screening takes approximately 30 minutes. You will receive an appointment time, date, and location beforehand. Usually, the screening location is the USCIS support center nearest to you.
You are expected to carry an identification document, preferably one that is government-issued. This document may be in the form of a passport, military photo identification, a driver’s license, or an Identity card issued in your country of origin.
If possible, try to attend your screening appointment on the set date. Rescheduling your appointment will delay the processing time of your Form I-821D.
13. Check For Any Possible Requests For Evidence
If USCIS has additional questions regarding your application, or if there were missing documents upon receiving your application, a Request for Evidence will be mailed to you. Responding to this RFE later than the indicated date or ultimately ignoring the request could lead to an automatic dismissal of your request.
14. Wait For A DACA Approval Notification
Sometimes, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival may take months to process. You can keep track of your application on your online USCIS account. Once your DACA request is approved, you will get an employment authorization card, which comes after filing Form I-765. Currently, the work authorization cards are only valid for two years.
Read more: Form I-765 Processing Time
15. Prepare To Renew Your Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Permit
Remember that your DACA approval is temporary and needs to be renewed every two years. To be on the safe side, when it is time to resubmit your application, you need to note your DACA expiration date. Renewal applications should be made no later than four months before the date of expiration. Late submissions could lead to job loss and the removal of other protections. Ensure that you keep copies of previous DACA applications and of all your supporting documents.
Before filing form I-821D, make sure you consult with an immigration attorney from a reputable law firm in case of any legal hurdle that may affect the renewal request.
Can I Reapply For DACA Once Denied?
If your DACA consideration request is denied, it is possible to reapply depending on the reasons for the denial. For example, if your application is dismissed because of a missing document that you are now in possession of, you may reapply.
You may consider working with a seasoned immigration attorney in your reapplication to ensure that all the documents are in order. Other cases that may require the assistance of an immigration attorney include appeal cases. Appeals are made in instances such as a denial of DACA on the grounds of missing documents that were actually submitted.
If the USCIS denies your DACA request because you are ineligible and you do not have any supporting documents to prove otherwise, you may not be able to reapply or appeal.