DACA was created by an Obama administration memorandum on June 15, 2012. It directs the United States immigration agencies to use prosecutorial discretion towards some individuals who immigrated to the United States as children and are currently in the country illegally.
Certain individuals who came to the United States as children and meet several key guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and would then be eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not provide an individual with lawful status.
You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:
1) Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
2) Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
3) Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
4) Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
5) Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
6) Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
7) Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Expansion of DACA by Executive Order
On November 20, 2014, President Obama issued an Executive Order expanding the DACA program by eliminating the age requirement, extending the cut off date, and increasing the length of the deferment.
The new policy removes the age restriction to allow individuals born prior to June 15, 1981, to apply for DACA provided they meet all other guidelines. It also extends the requirement of continuous residence in the United States to January 1, 2010, rather than the prior requirement of June 15, 2007. Additionally, it extends the deferred action period and employment authorization to three years from the current two years.
The United States Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") has announced that DACA recipients may request a renewal of status by filing for reauthorization within the 120 days prior to the expiration of their original two year grant. To qualify for renewal, an individual must have been eligible under the initial DACA guidelines and:
1) Did not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;
2) Have continuously resided in the United States since submitting their most recent DACA request that was approved; and
3) Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
A small number of DACA recipients are now eligible to enlist in the United States military. Up to 1,500 DACA recipients per year with desirable skills such as language and health care expertise will be allowed to serve in the U.S. military under a new Department of Defense policy.
To learn more about the recent changes in the law that allow some DACA recipients to serve in the U.S. military read our blog post entitled "Some DACA Recipients Now Eligible for Military Service"