Frequently Asked Questions
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or “DACA?”
|DACA is permission from U.S. immigration officials to stay in the U.S. for two years. It can be renewed. It is for some people who arrived as children and lived here for five years before June 15, 2012. A person who qualifies for DACA can apply for a work permit and get a social security number.|
Is it too late for me to apply for DACA? People are talking about renewing DACA, but I haven't applied yet.
Do I qualify for DACA?
|You qualify for DACA if:
Is it time to renew? I have DACA and my work permit expires soon.
The renewal forms are not ready yet. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is working on changes to the forms and has not announced how to renew DACA. Here is what you can do while you wait:
1. Save your money for the application fees.
2. Check this website or www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals for news about the process.
3. After USCIS announces how to renew DACA, send in your forms and fees a few months before your work permit expires. It takes a while for USCIS to send a new card.
4. Sign up to get alerts from our DACA Renewal Network.
Updated December 19, 2013
Should I wait for immigration reform?
No. If you qualify for DACA, it would be a mistake to wait for immigration reform. DACA is available now and it can provide real benefits. We still don't know if immigration reform will pass or not. Plus, if immigration reform passes, people with DACA are likely to benefit - the legalization process will probably be faster and cheaper for people with DACA than for others.
How do I get DACA?
How old do I have to be to apply for DACA?
You have to be at least 15 years old to apply for DACA unless:
- You are in removal proceedings;
- You have a final removal order; or
- You have a voluntary departure order.
I am now older than 31 years old. Can I apply for DACA? Will I be able to renew my DACA?
Yes! Some people who are now older than 31 years old can apply for DACA. Similarly, people who are now older than 31 years old will be able to renew their DACA.
This is the important question: were you born after June 15, 1981? If you were, then you are not too old for DACA.
How much does it cost to apply for DACA?
|It costs $465 to apply for DACA. You pay with a check or a money order for the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Some people who don't have money don't have to pay.|
What is the education or military service requirement?
To qualify for DACA, you have to either meet the education requirement OR the military service requirement. You do NOT have to meet both requirements.
There are three ways you can meet the education requirement:
To meet the military service requirement, you must be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces.
Which forms do I use?
|To apply for DACA, use these three forms:
1. Form I-821D. This is for DACA. It has questions about whether you qualify.
2. Form I-765. This is for permission to work.
3. Form I-765WS. This is to show immigration officials why you need permission to work.
The forms are free on the USCIS website. Read the instructions for each form and answer the questions carefully. If you use the online interview to fill in the forms, review the documents carefully before you send anything to immigration officials.
What do I have to prove to get DACA?
|You have to prove:
What should my application packet have?
|Send one packet of documents to immigration officials. Here is what it should have:
How can I prove my identity?
|You can use any of the following documents to prove that you are who you say you are:
How do I prove that I came to the United States before I turned 16?
|You can use any of these documents to prove that you came to the U.S. before you turned 16:
If I came in with a visa or parole, how can I prove that I was not in legal status on June 15, 2012?
|Show that your visa or status expired. Use any of these documents to prove that you were not in legal status on June 15, 2012:
How do I prove that I have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 and I was here on June 15, 2012?
You can use any of the following documents to prove that you have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007 and that you were here on June 15, 2012:
- Rent receipts, utility, cell phone bills
- Employment records (pay stubs, W-2 Forms, etc)
- School records (transcripts, letters, report cards, etc)
- Military records (Form DD-214 or NGB Form 22)
- Official records from a religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony
- Copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the country
- Passport entries
- Birth certificates of children born in the U.S.
- Dated bank transactions
- Social Security card
- Automobile license receipts or registration
- Deeds, mortgages, rental agreement contracts
- Tax receipts, insurance policies
- Medical, vaccination and dental records
- Any other document you think is relevant.
How do I prove I meet the education requirement?
|You can use any of these documents to show that you meet the education requirement:
I’m scared immigration officials are going to deport me or my parents if I apply for DACA. Should I apply?
Immigration officials have said that they are not going to try to deport someone who applies for DACA, unless that person lied to them or had some serious trouble with the police. The same goes for the families of people who apply for DACA.
Immigration officials have also said that they are free to change positions on this.
I’ve been using a fake Social Security Number. Do I have to tell immigration officials about that?
|No. On the DACA forms, only use a "valid" Social Security Number. A valid number is one that was officially issued to you by the government in your name. If you don't have a valid Social Security Number, leave those questions blank on the DACA forms. Do not use a fake Social on your forms.|
Can I use documents that are not in English?
|Everything you send must be in English or translated into English. You cannot do your own translation. The translator must be fluent in English and the language of the document. The translation must have a certificate of translation. A certificate of translation looks like this:
I, [NAME OF TRANSLATOR], am competent to translate from [FOREIGN LANGUAGE] into English, and certify that the translation of [NAME OF DOCUMENT] is true and accurate to the best of my abilities.
[SIGNATURE OF TRANSLATOR] [DATE OF TRANSLATION]
[BUSINESS ADDRESS & TELEPHONE NUMBER OF TRANSLATOR]
Should I send original documents or copies?
|Send the immigration forms with your original signature. Send copies of your personal documents and evidence.|
Should I make a copy of my application before sending it to immigration officials?
Yes! Keep a copy of everything you send to immigration officials.
Where do I send my application packet?
|It depends on where you live. Find out where to send the application packet on this USCIS webpage.|
What happens after I send in my application?
A few weeks after you send in your application, immigration officials should send you a "Receipt Notice," that they received your application.
Next, you should get an appointment notice of when and where to get fingerprinted and what to bring. Fingerprinting is a normal part of the process.
Finally, about 4-6 months after you apply, you should get the decision. It will be an approval, a denial , a Request for Evidence , or a Notice of Intent to Deny . If you receive an approval, you should get your work permit within a few days.
What qualifies as “in school?”
|To meet the "in school" requirement, you must be in:
How do I figure out if my GED/Literacy/Career Training/ESL program qualifies for DACA?
|The rules are a little different depending on your program.
If you are enrolled in a literacy program and you want to know if your program qualifies for DACA…
1. Find out if your program is run by a non-profit organization (501(c)(3)). If it is, it qualifies and you don't need to move to steps 2 or 3. Getting Proof: Use this one-page handout to ask an administrator of your program for a copy of the IRS letter confirming that the organization is tax exempt.
2. Talk to an administrator at your school to find out if the school gets government money. If the program is funded by federal, state, county or municipal grants, then it qualifies and you don't need to move to step 3. Getting Proof: Use this one-page handout to ask a program administrator for a letter providing basic details about the sources of funding.
3. If your program does not get government money, you will have to show that your program has a good track record in helping students like you achieve their goals. Immigration will look at several things to see if your program is effective. They will look at how long your program has existed, the program's track record in helping students reach their goals, whether your program has received any awards, and other information showing that the program is a good one. Getting Proof: Use this one-page handout to ask a program administrator for a letter about the program's demonstrated effectiveness.
Remember: You have to prove to immigration officials that your program qualifies. In addition, you have to prove that you are signed up for that program. So you will have to send the appropriate paperwork.
If I get DACA because I am in school, what happens if I drop out later?
You won't be able to renew your DACA if you drop out of school. Immigration officials want to see you move forward in school. This is what you need to show to renew your DACA:
- If you get DACA because you are in a public or private elementary school, junior high or middle school, high school, or secondary school, then you must show that you either (a) graduated or (b) are much closer to graduating than you were at the time you first applied for DACA.
- If you get DACA because you are in a GED program or a similar high school equivalency program, you will have to show that you got your high school diploma or passed the GED.
- If you get DACA because you are in an education, literacy, or career training program, you will have to show that you (a) are enrolled in postsecondary education (like community college), (b) that you got the kind of job you were training for, or (c) that you are much closer to completing the program than you were at the time you first applied for DACA.
I want to get DACA but I don’t meet the education or military service requirement. Is there anything I can do?
Yes! You can enroll in a program that qualifies for DACA. To find one, click here and call your state adult education organization.
I’ve been in trouble with the police before. Am I disqualified?
Maybe. It depends on what happened. It is very important to speak to a lawyer or BIA accredited representative before applying.
The government will use your fingerprints to check for criminal problems. If you had certain kinds of problems with the law then your application will be denied and you could be deported.
What kinds of crimes disqualify me from DACA?
The rules are complicated. If you have had a problem with the police, it is very important to talk to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying for DACA.
If you had any of the problems in the list below, you probably don't qualify for DACA and should not apply:
- You cannot get DACA if you have been convicted of a felony.
If the judge can sentence you to more than one year in jail for a crime, that crime is a felony.
B. Significant Misdemeanor
- You cannot get DACA if you have been convicted of a "significant misdemeanor."
If the judge can sentence you to jail time of five days up to one year, that crime a misdemeanor. But not all misdemeanors are "significant misdemeanors."
A crime can be a significant misdemeanor in two ways:
1. It is domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug sale, burglary, or driving under the influence; OR
2. It is any other misdemeanor and the person received a jail sentence of more than 90 days. Suspended sentences do not count.
C. Three Non-Significant Misdemeanors
- You cannot get DACA if you have been convicted of three or more non-significant misdemeanors.
If the judge can sentence you to jail time of five days up to one year, that crime is a misdemeanor.
Certain minor traffic offenses, like driving without a license, do not count. Also, if two misdemeanors happened on the same day or were part of the same event, then that should only count as one misdemeanor.
I can’t afford to pay $465 to apply for DACA. What can I do?
Most people have to pay, but there are exceptions. You can ask to apply for DACA without paying the fee if your income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty level and you are in one of these categories:
- You are under 18 and homeless, in foster care, or you don't have family support; or
- You cannot care for yourself because you suffer from a serious chronic disability; or
- You are at least $25,000 in debt because of medical expenses for you or someone in your immediate family.
What is 150% of the U.S. poverty level? Here is a chart with some examples:
|150% of U.S. poverty level||$17,235||$23,265||$29,295||$35,325||$41,355|
I am in one of the categories of people who don’t have to pay the filing fee. How do I ask immigration officials to let me apply for DACA without paying $465?
If you fit into one of the categories of people who don't have to pay the filing fee, you can ask immigration officials for a "fee exemption." You have to get the fee exemption before you apply for DACA.
There is no form to request the fee exemption. This is what you send:
1. A letter requesting a fee exemption; and
2. Documents to prove that your household income is less than 150% of the U.S. poverty guidelines. You can prove that with bank statements, tax returns, or pay stubs.
3. Documents proving that you are in a category of people who don't have to pay the fee.
- If you are under 18 and homeless, in foster care , or don't have family support, send your birth certificate or other evidence that you are under 18; and
-Either an affidavit from a community-based or religious organization that attests to your homelessness or lack of support; OR
-A letter from an agency that you are currently in foster care.
- If you have a chronic disability, send medical records or insurance records that describe your serious, chronic disability.
- If you have medical debt, send medical bills, insurance records, or other reliable evidence of unreimbursed medical expenses of at least $25,000.
Mail your request (via USPS only) to:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Attn: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Fee Exemption Request
20 Massachusetts Ave., NW
4th Floor, Suite 4300
Washington, DC 20529
I left the country between June 15, 2007 and August 15, 2012. Am I disqualified?
Maybe. The rules are complicated, depending on how long you were gone and why you left. Speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before you apply.
You are disqualified if you left for a long time, you left because an immigration official ordered you to leave, or you left to commit crimes.
I have a case in front of an Immigration Judge. Can I apply for DACA?
Yes! If you qualify , you can apply for DACA. It doesn't matter that you have a case in Immigration Court.
If you are or were in Immigration Court, speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative. You may need to send a copy of the papers from your immigration court case with your DACA request.
I had a case in Immigration Court. Can I apply for DACA?
What should I do if I get a Request for Evidence?
In the Request for Evidence, immigration officials are telling you that they need more evidence before they can decide your case. Read the Request for Evidence (RFE) carefully and you should probably contact a lawyer or BIA accredited representative for help. You only have 87 days to respond to a DACA RFE. If you get one, you should immediately plan how you will respond.
What should I do if I get a Notice of Intent to Deny?
In the Notice of Intent to Deny, immigration officials are telling you that they think you don't qualify for DACA and why. Read the Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) carefully and you should probably contact a lawyer or BIA accredited representative for help. You only have 33 days to respond to a DACA NOID. If you get one, you should immediately plan how you will respond.
A NOID is not the same thing as a denial. Immigration officials have not decided that you don't qualify for DACA. They have just told you that they think you don't qualify. You have to convince them that they are wrong and that you do qualify. The way to do that is to read the NOID carefully, figure out why immigration officials think you don't qualify, and send them evidence showing them that you meet the requirements they are worried about. Before you send in your response, you should take a minute and re-read the entire NOID to make sure you follow all of the instructions.
My case was denied but it shouldn’t have been. What can I do?
If your case was denied and it shouldn't have been, you may be able to ask immigration officials to review it. You can ask for your case to be reviewed if:
1. Immigration officials sent you a Request for Evidence (RFE) and you responded to it on time but immigration officials said you abandoned your case.
2. Immigration officials mailed an RFE to your old address after you told them about your new address.
If this happened to you, call immigration officials at 1-800-375-5283 and tell them about it. You should do this as soon as possible.
I received DACA. How do I get my Social Security Number?
Congratulations! Now that you have DACA, you can get a Social Security Number. To get one, follow these instructions.
I’m undocumented but I don’t qualify for DACA. What should I do?
You should speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative about your options. To find legal help near you, click here.
Every case is different. You might qualify for something better than DACA, depending on how you came into the country, whether you have family members with lawful status, whether anyone has ever filed a petition for you or your parents, whether you have ever been the victim of a crime, and more.
Remember, if you talk to someone about your immigration status, make sure it is a licensed attorney or a BIA accredited representative. Avoid legal consultants ("notarios"). Notarios are not allowed to practice law and they are committing a crime when they do it. To learn more about notario fraud, click here.
I have been accused of being connected to a gang. Should I apply for DACA?
It depends. If immigration officials believe you are dangerous, then they will not grant your DACA application. If your name is in a "gang database," immigration officials will probably find you to be dangerous and deny your application. Immigration officials may also put you in immigration detention and try to deport you. You should talk to a lawyer or BIA accredited representative before applying for DACA if you have been accused of being connected to a gang.
I have been accused of being connected to terrorism or spying. Should I apply for DACA?
It depends. If immigration officials believe you threaten national security, then they will not grant your DACA application. Immigration officials may also put you in immigration detention and try to deport you. You should talk to a lawyer or BIA accredited representative before applying for DACA if you have been accused of being connected to terrorism or spying.
If I move after I send in my application, do I need to tell immigration officials?
Yes! If you move after you apply for DACA, you have to tell immigration officials. You can update your address online by clicking here and following the instructions. The name of the form you need to fill out is called AR-11. You are supposed to tell immigration officials within 10 days of when you move.
How do I find out what is happening to my DACA application?
Here is how you can find out what is happening to your DACA case:
1. Look at the receipt notice (Form I-797C) the government mailed you after you sent your DACA application. Find the receipt number and the date of the receipt.
2. Go to the USCIS case status webpage and enter your receipt number in the "Check Status" box.
3. The status should say "initial review," if your case has not been decided yet. If the status says something different but you have not received mail from USCIS, then you might have a problem. You can call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283.
What can I do if my DACA application is taking too long?
If you applied more than six months ago, your case is taking too long. This is how to find out what is happening and tell USCIS there is a problem:
1. Look at the receipt notice (Form I-797C) the government mailed you after you sent your DACA application. Find the receipt number and the date of the receipt. If the date is more than six months ago, then you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NSCS). The NCSC is part of the USCIS.
2. Get online and go to the USCIS case status webpage. Enter your receipt number in the "Check Status" box. This will take you to information about your case.
3. The status should say "initial review," if your case has not been decided yet. (If the status says something different but you have not received mail from USCIS, you may have a problem.)
4. Call the NSCS at 1-800-375-5283. Have your (Form I-797C) receipt number, date, and "alien number" ready for your phone call. Tell the NCSC your case is taking more than six months. Write down what the NCSC says on the phone and ask for a "referral number. " The USCIS uses the NSCS referral number to keep track of your questions. If you don't get a referral number, then write down agent's name, and the time and date of your call.
5. If NCSC doesn't answer within 15 days, then send an email. Include your receipt number, date, alien number, and the information about when you called the NCSC. Send your email to the service center where you filed your application. Here is the list of email addresses for the regional service centers:
• CSC - firstname.lastname@example.org
• NSC - email@example.com
• TSC - firstname.lastname@example.org
• VSC - email@example.com
6. If you don't get a response within 21 days of emailing the service center, you can contact USCIS Service Center Operations by e-mailing SCOPSSCATA@dhs.gov. Again, include all the dates and numbers to identify your case and explain what you have done.
7. If you tried all these steps and still don't have an answer, you could contact the USCIS Ombudsman or your senator or member of Congress.
o The USCIS Ombudsman helps people with their immigration cases. To ask for the Ombudsman's help, complete this case assistance form.
o Your senator or member of Congress may also be able to help you. Here is a website where you can find out who is your senator and member of Congress. Every state has two senators. Every district has one member of Congress. To ask for help from an elected official, go to his or her website and look for "constituent services." Follow the website's instructions for how to request assistance. You might need to complete a privacy release form in order to receive help. Not all elected officials will help you. It is a good idea to first learn about what your Washington representative has said about DACA and immigration generally.