Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Explained

Jeffrey Alan Peek

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Immigration Attorney - Austin, TX

Contributor Level 3

Posted over 2 years ago. 1 helpful vote



Basic Requirements for DACA

An individual may be considered for DACA if he or she: (1) Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; (2) Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; (3) Has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; (4) Was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making the request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; (5) Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or his or her lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012; (6) Is currently in school, has graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, has obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and (7) Has 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.


Continuously Resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.

The DACA application instructions state that an applicant must report all absences from the U.S. since June 15, 2007. A brief absence from the U.S. after June 15, 2007 may not disqualify an applicant for DACA depending on the length, reason, and if the absence was "brief, casual, and innocent before June 15, 2012." The DACA application instructions also include examples possible reasons for travel, including attending a wedding or funeral. From this language, it is apparent that absences due to removal orders or voluntary departure orders or for illegal purposes (i.e., trafficking drugs, trafficking immigrants, etc.) will not be accepted as "brief, casual and innocent" absences from the U.S.


Under the age of 31 years old and at least 15 years of age.

The DACA application and instructions state that anyone under the age of 31 year old may apply for DACA. Additionally, an applicant must be at least 15 years old at the time of filing, unless the individual is in removal, then he or she may apply for DACA at any age.


Presence on June 15, 2012.

The DACA application also indicates that an applicant must show that he or she is one of the following: - The applicant entered into the U.S. without inspection and was present in U.S. on June 15, 2012, or - The applicant had status that expired before June 15, 2012 and was present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.


High School Diploma, GED or Certificate of Completion

To apply for DACA, an applicant must be either: - Attending high school, - Graduated from high school and have a diploma or certificate of completion, or - Have obtained a GED. An applicant must have obtained his or her GED, high school diploma or certificate of completion, or be current attending high school to apply. Those applicants who are preparing for the GED or who are in the process of taking the GED may not apply for DACA until they have completed their GED.


Significant Misdemeanors

A juvenile offense is a crime committed by a person under the age of 16 years in Texas. Based on a reading of the DACA application instructions, it appears juvenile offenses will not disqualify an applicant from the DACA application process because juvenile offenses in Texas do not result in convictions. However, if an applicant is convicted of a juvenile offense, the applicant will be required to submit documentation of the dispositions to apply for DACA.


Documents Needed to Prove Identity

The DACA application instructions include a list of documents to submit. The instructions state that an applicant may submit "any of the following", meaning an applicant is not required to submit all the documents included on the list. Thus, an applicant is not required to submit a passport to apply for DACA.

Additional Resources

USCIS Website

Peek & Toland Deferred Action Packet in English

Alternative Reliefs to DACA

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Deferred action

Deferred Action is a policy that allows qualifying immigrants to receive employment authorization and have removal proceedings delayed.

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