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Biden Is President. What’s Next for DACA?
Under Biden, the federal government is once again supporting the preservation of DACA.
What Has Changed for DACA?
President Biden issued a memorandum on January 20, 2021, directing the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to protect and preserve DACA. This direction represents a serious change in priority for the federal government, since President Trump’s administration sought to end the DACA program.
However, this memorandum does not change the basic outline of the program: the requirements to benefit from the program remain unchanged, and the possible benefits applicants can receive also remain the same.
Can I Apply for DACA?
Immigration is currently accepting new and renewal DACA applications.
You are eligible to apply for DACA if you fulfill the following seven requirements:
(1) You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012.
(2) You arrived in the United States before reaching the age of 16.
(3) You have continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 to the present.
(4) You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and you are physically present in the United States at the time you make your request for deferred action.
(5) You are in school, already graduated high school, obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
(6) You had no lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012. (You fulfill this requirement if you never had a lawful immigration status OR if you had a lawful immigration status, but it expired before June 15, 2012.)
(7) You have never been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and you do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.
If all seven of the above conditions apply to you but you are under the age of fifteen, you may only apply if you are currently in removal or deportation proceedings. If you are not currently in removal or deportation proceedings, you may apply upon turning fifteen.
What Do I Need to Do to Apply For DACA?
If you think you might be eligible for DACA, schedule an appointment to consult with Attorney Jon Wu about your DACA eligibility, or consult the USCIS website for a list of instructions and free copies of the forms.
What Benefits Does DACA Provide?
DACA stands for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” and the program is intended to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. Under DACA, eligible people – sometimes referred to as “DREAMers” — can apply for deferred action. Deferred action lasts for two years before it must be renewed. During those two years, DACA recipients will not be deported for being undocumented. In some states, including California, DACA recipients are eligible for a driver’s license. DACA recipients can attend school, and can also receive authorization to lawfully work.
However, DACA is not currently a path to becoming a citizen or a permanent resident, and DACA recipients are not guaranteed that their applications to renew their status every two years will be approved. DACA recipients are not allowed to vote or receive federal funding, including Social Security, college financial aid, or food stamps, but they are required to pay taxes.
I Heard Something About Biden Creating a Path to Citizenship for DACA Recipients. Is That True?
Biden has proposed an immigration bill that would grant DACA recipients permanent residency, and ultimately allow them to apply for citizenship. However, that bill is still in its very early stages, and as of January 2021, has not yet been passed by either house of Congress.
So, right now, there is no guarantee that DACA recipients will receive permanent residency, but it is a possibility, depending on the progress of relevant legislation.
I’m Not Eligible for DACA, But I Heard that Biden’s Immigration Bill Might Help Other People, too. Will I Be Eligible for Relief?
Biden’s immigration bill does propose offering immigration relief to undocumented people beyond current DACA recipients. However, Congress has not yet passed this bill or any other immigration bill proposed by Biden into law, and so none of the proposed changes are in effect, yet. The process of debating the bill will likely take some time, and it is not guaranteed that Biden’s plan will pass at all. If you need assistance with an immigration matter, or if you are not sure if you qualify for any currently available immigration relief, you can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu to discuss your case.