The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for deferred action for childhood arrivals (“DACA”) beginning August 15, 2012.

The application process and forms are now available on the USCIS website:

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • 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;
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  • 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
  • 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.

To apply for deferred action, eligible applicants should prepare and submit Form I-821D, the application for employment authorization, and supporting documents.  The total fee for this application is $465.  This fee includes the cost of $380 for the employment authorization application and the $85 fee for the electronic background checks.

The USCIS will consider waiving the fees for DACA applicants in very limited circumstances.  The criteria for exemption of the DACA fees are also available on the USCIS website.  If a potential applicant is in need of a fee exemption, and qualifies for said exemption, the request for a fee exemption should be submitted prior to filing any application for DACA.  Individuals should not file applications for DACA without an approved fee exemption as the application will be rejected.

To request a fee exemption, applicants are directed to submit a letter and supporting documents to the USCIS showing that:

  • The applicant is under 18 years of age, homeless, in foster care, or under 18 years of age and otherwise lacking any parental or other familial support and his/her income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level,
  • The applicant cannot care for him/herself because he/she suffers from a  serious chronic disability and his/her income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level,  or
  • The applicant, at the time of the request, accumulated $25,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as the result of unreimbursed medical expenses for him/herself or an immediate family member and his/her income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level.

Potential applicants should be wary of unscrupulous individuals seeking to take advantage of immigrants who may charge exorbitant prices to assist with the filing of these applications.  Instead, individuals should contact a reputable immigrant rights non-profit organization or a reputable immigration lawyer for assistance with the application process.

By Monica Guizar

Legal Developments