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.


Is it time to renew your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Hi, I’m Chito Vela with Walker Gates Vela, PLLC. Today we are glad to announce that the Department of Homeland Security has published guidelines for renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals or DACA. On June 5, 2014, US Citizenship and Immigration Services published a revised form I-821D which is now the only form accepted for DACA applications, whether renewals or first-time applicants.

The renewal process will require applicants to show that [1] they have not departed the United States on or after August 15, 2012 unless they had advance parole, [2] they have resided continuously in the United States since they submitted their last application for DACA, and [3] they have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors of any kind. The renewal process does not require submission of evidence to establish eligibility.

Initial applications, however, do continue to require submission of evidence that the applicant entered before age 16, is currently under 33 years of age, graduated from school or is attending school in the United States, does not have disqualifying criminal convictions.

For assistance with applying for DACA or renewing your deferred action, call us at (512) 633-1785.

Jennifer Walker Gates On G+

Wondering about renewing DACA? You’re not alone.

In September of 2014, around 150 days (5 months) from now, the first DACA recipients’ work permits will begin to expire. Many DACA recipients (and their advocates) have started to wonder about the process for renewing their status and work authorization, especially because the typical time-frame for receiving an initial grant of DACA is around 180 days, or six months. So far, however, the immigration service has not published finalized instructions about how to renew deferred action for those who have received it since it was first announced in 2012.

On April 9, 2014, USCIS published an “Outline to request renewal of DACA.” The outline indicates that final instructions will be published, along with new forms for renewing and receiving initial grants of DACA, in late May of 2014. The outline also indicates that USCIS will “not accept requests [for renewal] made earlier than 150 days prior to [the] expiration date” printed on the front of the Employment Authorization Document. The outline instructs applicants to submit their renewal requests “approximately 120 days (or 4 months) before” the current period of DACA expires. Unfortunately for some who received DACA in the earliest days of the program, the 120 day period prior to expiration will already be well underway by the time the renewal process is publicized.

If you received a grant of DACA in the fall of 2012, stay tuned and ready for the publication of final instructions about renewal. If we all remain vigilant, we can avoid gaps in status or work authorization as we go about the process of renewing this new and unfamiliar benefit. Clients of WGV are encouraged to make an appointment with Diana Arellano, DACA Case Manager, no later than six months prior to the expiration of your status.

Jennifer Walker Gates On G+