Five Key Changes to the DACA Program

Beginning on February 18, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting program for the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Any requests that are pending as of February 18, 2015, will be considered under the new program. Here are some changes to expect to the program as we know it.

1. No upper-level age-cap: President Obama initially offered deferred action to only those undocumented immigrants who were below the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. However, on November 20, 2014, President Obama expanded the program. Individuals who were left out of the previous announcement on June 15, 2012 because they were over the age of 31, can apply for the new program so long as they meet all the other requirements.

2. Three year work permits: All work permits issued under the new program should be for a duration of three years, instead of two years.

3. Continuous presence as of January 1, 2010: More recent arrivals can now qualify for the expanded DACA program by providing evidence that they entered before January 1, 2010. The previous cut off was June 15, 2007. To meet the new continuous residence guideline, applicants must submit documentation that shows that they have been living in the United States from January 1, 2010, up until the time of their request for DACA.

4. Ability to apply for advance parole concurrently: USCIS is now allowing potential DACA applicants to apply for advance parole to travel abroad concurrently with their request for deferred action. The application for advance parole is I-131, and the fees are $360. Note that at this time, applicants for DACA can only travel abroad for educational, employment or humanitarian reasons. You should be aware that if you have been ordered deported or removed and leave the United States (even with advance parole), your departure will likely result in your being considered deported or removed.

5. Some reprieve for non-immigrants who aged out as of June 15, 2012: USCIS has clarified that non-immigrant students who were admitted for “duration of status” but who aged out of their dependent non-immigrant status on or before June 15, 2012 (in other words, those who turned 21) will also be considered for deferred action under this process. While this does not help many non-immigrants who fell out of status later, it is a welcome move in the right direction.

Still have questions about the program? We’re here to help you.

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