What is deferred action for child arrivals?

Deferred action is an administrative determination that may allow for the deferment of removal actions of those brought to the U.S. as children.

Over 700,000 young people are living in the U.S. without legal documentation after being brought here as children, the New York Times reports. Due to their status, these immigrants face significant challenges as they pursue a higher education and work to build their adult lives in California and elsewhere. In 2012, the deferred action for child arrivals, or DACA, program was created to provide some protections to these undocumented students. Understanding what DACA is and how it works may help those who immigrated to the U.S. without authorization as children to protect themselves and their futures.

Deferred action consideration

Deferred action for childhood arrivals is a discretionary determination that may allow certain people who were brought to the U.S. as children without authorization to postpone deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may defer actions to remove those who receive this consideration for up to two years, subject to a renewal. Students who receive deferred action may request approval to work, but it is important to keep in mind that this relief does not provide them with lawful immigration or citizenship status.

Eligibility requirements

To request deferred action consideration, people must meet certain guidelines. In addition to being at least 15-years-old, the eligibility requirements for DACA consideration include the following:

  • Having been physically in the U.S. on June 15,2012
  • Being under the age of 31-years-old on June 15,2012
  • Having lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • Having had no lawful status as of June 15, 2012

Young immigrants requesting DACA must also be currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged by the armed forces. In order to qualify for deferred action, requestors cannot have a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanor convictions on their criminal records.

Applying for DACA

Those who meet the deferred action guidelines may request this relief by filing an application with the USCIS. Along with completing the necessary forms and worksheets, young immigrants must submit documentation proving their identity and demonstrating they meet the eligibility requirements. This may include passports or other photo identification, school records, utility bills or rent receipts, banking records or health records. Unless they have received an exemption, people requesting DACA status must also pay the associated fees.

Working with a lawyer

With the ever-changing landscape of immigration law in the U.S., seeking DACA may be a complicated process for some undocumented students in California. Therefore, those who came to the U.S. as children without authorization may benefit from consulting with a legal representative. An attorney may help them understand their rights and options, as well as guide them through the application process.