Published: December 1, 2012

As of November 15, 2012, a total of almost 300,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (“DACA”) applications have been received by U.S. Department of Homeland Security. DACA applicants are also known as “DREAMERS” since they make up the demographic that would presumably benefit from previously proposed legislation known as the “DREAM Act” – i.e. young adults brought to the U.S. as children and who have remained in the U.S., through no fault of their own, for an extended period. The vast majority of DACA applicants have been scheduled for, or have completed, their biometric fingerprinting process. Importantly, to this point, more than 53,000 applicants have been approved and issued 2 year deferred action status notices and 2 year employment authorization documents (EAD). These numbers and milestones are consistent with developments our office has seen with our clients’ applications, with clients receiving approvals and EAD’s within 8 weeks of filing in most cases. In general, our office has been seeing processing times range from 50 days to 100 days, although as more applications are received by DHS, an expanded processing time frame can be expected. Further, to extent an applicant’s background may involve a complicating factor, such as a criminal arrest or pending removal proceedings, application processing may be a bit slower.

As a reminder – The Basics – eligible applicants are “young adults” who:

A) are in school, have completed high school or their G.E.D., or are an honorably discharged veteran from the U.S. armed forces or Coast Guard,
B) have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 and up to the present,
C) have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or 3 “insignificant” misdemeanors,
D) came to the U.S. prior to their 16th birthday,
E) entered the U.S. without inspection prior to June 15, 2012, or whose immigration status expired as of that date,
F) were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of submitting the DACA application and
G) were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012

A filing fee totaling $465.00 is required, as will the submission of documentation to support the applicant’s claim of eligibility. Following the submission of the application and supporting documentation, applicants are being scheduled for biometric processing within approximately 6 weeks.

Important Details in Response to the Most Common Questions:

*“Brief and casual” departures from the U.S. during the above qualifying periods will not negatively impact eligibility, so long as the departure did not take place in the context of a removal proceeding or immigration court order,

* Individuals in removal proceedings are indeed eligible to apply and the application is made directly with DHS/CIS, as any other applicant would proceed,

* Misdemeanors deemed “significant” and thus causing ineligibility – include any conviction for driving under the influence, domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, firearms violation, drug distribution or trafficking (but not possession), no matter the jail term, or absence thereof,

* Applicants with any conviction involving a sentence of more than 90 days in prison will be deemed ineligible,

* Applicants with 2 or fewer “insignificant” misdemeanors continue to be eligible for this benefit,

* Applicants with minor traffic violations, such as driving without a license, will not be deemed ineligible because of such offenses,

* Applicants must be at least 15 years old at the time of the application, although if the prospective applicant is in removal proceedings, or has already been ordered removed (but is still in the U.S.), the applicant can even be under the age of 15.

* Following approval of the application, applicants may possibly be eligible to apply for a special document to allow for international travel. Any travel prior to issuance of a travel document may lead to disqualifying consequences.

Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois