Guidelines for Requesting DACA for the First Time

Guidelines for Requesting DACA for the First Time

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, began on August 15, 2012, two months after President Obama created the policy. The purpose of this act is to provide a path to work authorization for non-criminal immigrants who came to United States at age 16 or younger, do not have serious criminal records, and are currently studying or have graduated high school.

This limited and discretionary immigration can be given to people who are currently in removal proceedings or have final orders of removal. It is also applicable to those have never been in removal proceedings.

Individuals who have been granted deferred action status also qualify for employment authorization. It is important to remember that DACA is not a direct path to citizenship or permanent residence.

Who is Eligible for DACA?

To qualify for DACA, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Were under 31 years of age at the time of the policy date (June 15, 2012)
  • Arrived in U.S. at less than 16 years of age
  • Have continuously lived in the US since June 15, 2007
  • Entered the U.S. without inspection
  • Were present in the U.S. from policy date
  • Were present at time of making request for consideration of deferred action
  • Are not a threat to national security
  • Are in school, have graduated from high school have GED or were honorably discharged from Coast Guard or armed forces
  • Have no felonies, significant misdemeanors, or more than 3 misdemeanors of any kind
  • Must be at least 15 years of age at time of application

There are some exceptions for the last eligibility requirement if you are currently in removal proceedings, have final removal order or an order of voluntary departure.

How Do I Request DACA for the First Time?

First, make sure you meet all of the eligibility requirements and review exceptions if necessary. Next, you’ll need to gather the following documents:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of arrival to United States before 16th birthday
  • Proof of immigration status
  • Proof of presence in the United States on June 15, 2012
  • Proof of continuous residence in the country since June 15, 2007
  • Proof of student status, diploma, GED or of honorable discharge

There are many different documents that could serve as proof of the above stipulations including passports, military IDs, travel records and birth certificates. A complete list of acceptable documents can be found on the USCIS website.

After gathering the documentation, you must complete USCIS forms i-821D, I-765 and I-765WS. These forms and the evidence should be mailed to the appropriate USCIS lockbox along with the fee of $465. You will receive a receipt in the mail once USCIS has accepted your request but may also elect to receive an email or text message by filling out Form G-1145.

Once USCIS receives your request, they will schedule you an ASC visit to do biometrics. It is imperative that you attend this appointment to avoid being denied DACA. Continue to check your status online with your receipt number through the myUSCIS case status portal.

Are There Any Fee Exemptions for DACA?

Fee exemptions are limited and must meet the outlined criteria below. You must provide documentation of your eligibility for fee exemptions and a letter to USCIS before applying for DACA.

Exemptions are offered for the following circumstances:

  • Applicants who are under 18 years of age and homeless
  • Applicants with serious, chronic disabilities who live on an income that is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level
  • Applicants who are under 18 years of age, have an income that is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level and are in foster care or do not receive parental or familial support
  • Applicants who have $10,000 or more in debt due to unreimbursed medical fees of their own or a family member and live on an income that is less than 150 percent of the U.S. policy level

If you’re considering applying for DACA for the first time, make the process simpler by getting in touch with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney (