By Ilissa Mira, CLINIC Training and Legal Support Attorney
On June 5, 2014, USCIS released the much anticipated revised Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The new dual-purpose form will be used to file both initial and renewal DACA requests. As of the release date, USCIS will not accept DACA requests submitted on the old form.
In September 2012, USCIS began granting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to individuals who entered the U.S. as children and met certain eligibility guidelines. DACA grantees receive deferred action and an employment authorization document, both valid for a two-year period. Initial DACA grants for the earliest applicants will begin to expire in September 2014 and the renewal process is now open.
To qualify for renewal, an individual must have previously been approved for DACA and show that he or she:
- Did not depart the United States on or after August 15, 2012 without advance parole;
- Has continuously resided in the United States since he or she submitted his or her most recent request for DACA that was approved up to the present time; and
- Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Renewal applicants should submit their requests to USCIS at least 4 to 5 months before their DACA expires. Individuals whose current DACA grants expire before they receive a renewal will lose their deferred action and work authorization. Those who are 18 years or older will accrue unlawful presence during any gap in deferred action. To prevent a lapse in work authorization and the accrual of unlawful presence, USCIS encourages renewal applicants to submit requests at least 120 days (4 months) prior to the expiration of their current DACA period. The USCIS Frequently Asked Questions (updated June 5, 2014) currently state that those who have filed for renewal at least 120 days before their deferred action and EAD expire may receive a short DACA extension if USCIS encounters unexpected processing delays while their request is being adjudicated. However, no specific process for providing extensions has been announced. CLINIC recommends that applicants submit renewal requests as soon as they qualify to do so. At the earliest, renewal requests may be submitted 150 days (5 months) prior to the individual’s current DACA expiration date.
The new form indicates sections that are for initial applicants, renewal applicants, or both. Requestors who are applying for DACA for the first time must demonstrate their eligibility under the general DACA guidelines and submit supporting evidence. For the majority of renewal requestors, the renewal application process will be much simpler than the initial process. Those who previously received DACA from USCIS do not complete the education section of the form and must only list residences and absences from the United States since their initial DACA grant. Supporting documents are only required if the renewal requestor is currently in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings (but not if the case was administratively closed); or has been charged with, or convicted of, a felony or misdemeanor. Renewal applicants should not submit supporting documents that were submitted to USCIS in a previous DACA request. Note that renewal applicants are not instructed to include supporting documentation related to the education guidelines or continuous residence. However, USCIS reserves the authority to request additional documents or information relating to a DACA renewal determination.
Renewal requestors who received initial DACA grants from ICE must go through a more burdensome process. ICE-granted DACA recipients must complete all sections of the form as if they were initial applicants and must demonstrate that they meet each of the DACA eligibility guidelines.
All DACA requests must include the new Form I-821D, as well as Forms I-765 and I-765WS.
Requests made on June 5, 2014 or later must be made using the revised Form I-821D (version 6.4.14). USCIS is no longer accepting DACA requests made on the previous version of the form. The fee for both initial and renewal applicants remains $465, unless the applicant qualifies for a fee exemption.
Additional changes to the form and instructions include:
- For initial applicants, new guidance on satisfying the educational requirement through current school enrollment.
- A new “Processing Information” section of the form which requires biographic data to be used in conducting background checks.
- Renewal applicants are asked to list only addresses and absences since their last DACA approval.
- New national security questions related to the recruitment or use of child soldiers.
DACA renewals provide an opportunity for affiliates to reach out to both current DACA recipients and potential first time applicants. 642,685 individuals have applied for DACA as of March 2014 and 82% of those applications were approved. The success of the DACA program may encourage new applicants to seek DACA application assistance for the first time. CLINIC’s DACA Workshop Toolkit will be updated to include a number of new resources for planning and implementing group workshops to serve both initial and renewal DACA requestors.