By Ilissa Mira, CLINIC Training and Legal Support Attorney
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. In anticipation, USCIS is developing a renewal process and inviting public comment. This article summarizes the latest changes to the proposed Form I-821D and current areas of concern.
USCIS released a preliminary revised Form I-821D and instructions on December 18, 2013 for a 60-day public comment period. In response, CLINIC submitted recommendations focusing on several areas of concern, including:
- the proposed form’s confusing structure
- a restriction allowing renewal applicants to apply no more than 120 days before their grant of deferred action expired
- burdensome education requirements for renewal applicants
- burdensome evidentiary requirements regarding criminal records
- lack of clarity regarding supporting documentation required for renewal applicants
On April 5, 2014, USCIS published a second revised form, which incorporates many of CLINIC’s recommendations. Additionally, USCIS updated its DACA webpage to include preliminary information regarding the renewal process. The draft Form I-821D and the information on the website are subject to change until the form and renewal process are finalized in May 2014.
Highlights from the website guidance and the latest draft Form I-821D and instructions include:
- One form will be used for both initial and renewal applicants. New instructions clarify who must respond to each section (e.g., initial requestors, renewal requestors, or both).
- Renewal requests may be submitted no more than 150 days prior to the expiration of the individual’s current DACA period. The previous revision allowed renewal applicants to submit requests only 120 days priors to the expiration of their current DACA period.
- Guidance on the USCIS website currently states that those who have filed at least 120 days before their deferred action and EAD expire may be provided a short extension if USCIS is unexpectedly delayed in processing the renewal request.
- The form and instructions do not require renewal applicants to demonstrate that they continue to meet the education guidelines or include supporting documentation related to the education guidelines. However, guidance on the USCIS website advises applicants to keep copies of all supporting documents that evidence they satisfy the DACA guidelines.
- Initial DACA requestors may satisfy the education guideline through enrollment in an education, literacy or career training program administered by a non-profit.
- Renewal applicants are not required to resubmit supporting documentation included in a prior DACA request to USCIS. Only documents related to criminal history or removal proceedings since the initial DACA grant must be submitted.
CLINIC is pleased that USCIS has expanded the renewal window, however, we are troubled that some individuals who do not apply within the 120 – 150 day period before their DACA expires may fall into unlawful status if USCIS fails to adjudicate their applications in that timeframe. We appreciate that renewal applicants will not be required to resubmit evidence previously included in prior applications. Still, we are concerned that requests for arrest records are inappropriate and overly burdensome to applicants and that requests for juvenile records will lead to inconsistent and unfair treatment of individuals depending on their state’s privacy laws.
Public comments on the latest proposed DACA form and instructions are due on May 5, 2014. CLINIC will be submitting comments and we encourage our affiliates to use this opportunity to share their thoughts with CLINIC Training and Legal Support Attorneys Tatyana Delgado, firstname.lastname@example.org and Ilissa Mira, email@example.com.