Expanded DACA Begins February 18th

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced that on February 18, 2015, eligible persons may begin submitting applications for the expanded version of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014. The new program is frequently referred to as “expanded DACA.” At Walker Gates Vela, we refer to it affectionately as “DACA 2.0.”

DACA 2.0 Changes Some of the Original Eligibility Requirements

 In order to be eligible for “DACA 2.0,” an applicant need not show that he or she is under any particular age. Even elderly persons can apply, so long as he or she entered and began residing in the USA prior to the age of 16 years. In addition, the date of initial entry was advanced from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010, thereby expanding eligibility to individuals who arrived more recently.

Other than those changes, the guidance published by U.S. CIS indicates that the applicant must “meet all other DACA guidelines.” Presumably, then, applicants for DACA 2.0 must continue to demonstrate that they were physically present in the United States and without lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012, as well as on the date of submitting the application. Applicants for DACA 2.0 will be required to demonstrate that departures outside the United States after January 1, 2010 were “brief, casual, and innocent,” or in other words, were not related to a deportation, were not made for any illegal purpose, and were not prolonged beyond what U.S. CIS considers to be a reasonable period. Finally, DACA applicants must still have no disqualifying criminal convictions (e.g. any felony, three or more misdemeanors, or any significant misdemeanor), and must demonstrate the requisite educational requirements.

To qualify for DACA on or after February 18, 2015, an applicant will be required to show that he or she:

1. Entered the United States prior to his or her 16th birthday;

2. Has continuously resided in the United States since on or before January 1, 2010;

3. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of submitting the application;

4. Had no lawful immigration status on June 15, 2012;

5. Are currently in school, have received a diploma or GED from an accredited educational institution, or are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard; and

6. Has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or any three misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a risk to national security or public safety.

For more information about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and other benefits available to immigrant youth, visit our website or call us to make an appointment today.


How to determine if your immigrant child is in the U.S.A.

On June 19, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — the government agency tasked with processing, housing, and caring for unaccompanied immigrant children — opened a telephone hotline for individuals wanting to know whether their child is in ORR care.

The number is 1-800-203-7001 and will be operational 7 days a week from 9:00AM to 9:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Individuals searching for a child should have the child’s name, date of birth, and any important or identifying information about the child (for example, scars, birthmarks, or medications required). The telephone operator, who is a Spanish speaker, will take down the information about the child and the caller’s contact information. He or she will then conduct a search of ORR systems to determine if the child is in ORR care. If the child is, in fact, in ORR custody, the child’s case worker will be provided with the caller’s contact information, and the caller will be contacted by the case worker as soon as is practicable.

The packet of documents required to reunite a child with his or her parent or sponsor is called the Family Reunification Packet. The packet includes an Application for Family Reunification, and is available in Spanish and English. All required documents are on ORR’s website (link below) under “Key Documents for the Unaccompanied Children’s Services Program.”


If you are the parent or caregiver of an immigrant minor, and would like assistance exploring immigration-related legal issues related to your child, please contact us at (512) 633-1785 or via our website contact form to schedule a consultation.