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What is DACA - Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - and do I qualify?

Posted by attorney Samuel Maina

Most children who grow up and attend school in the US believe they are living the same American Dream as their classmates and are well on their way to success and happiness. Unfortunately, many receive a rude awakening when they learn, much to their surprise, that they are in fact undocumented and have no legal status. To the young adult who wishes to pursue further educational and professional goals, this can seem an almost insurmountable roadblock to their future dreams and aspirations.

With the implementation of the Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, commonly referred to as “DACA," many of these young adults may find relief. DACA allows qualified applicants to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (“work permit") which will then allow them to obtain a Social Security Card. A state Identification Card or Driver’s License will then be available also. You can then legally attend school or find employment.

How do you know if you are eligible for DACA? Well, you may apply for DACA if you meet the following requirements:

You were under the age of 31 years as of June 15, 2012;

You came to the United States before your 6th birthday;

You have continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 up to the present time;

You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of applying for DACA;

You either entered the US without inspection (illegally) before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

You 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;

You 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.

Additionally, you must have been under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012. You must also be at least 15 years or older to request DACA, BUT if you are currently in removal proceedings or have a final order of removal or voluntary departure, you may apply even if you are younger than 15 years.

DACA is not a final solution to the problem of the undocumented young adult, but it is a great beginning to getting you on the path to achieve your life goals.

If you think you may be eligible for DACA, contact a qualified immigration attorney for a consultation.

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