If you are living in the United States without status and arrived before you turned 16, you should speak to an attorney about whether you are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It is potentially available even if you have been placed in removal proceedings or are subject to an order of removal. Although the recent expansion of DACA is currently tied up in the courts, the original DACA program established in 2012 is still in effect.
DACA does not create a direct path to a green card or citizenship, but it could provide you with peace of mind. If you are granted DACA, you will not be deported from the United States for at least two years (and potentially longer), and you may obtain work authorization during that time.
To qualify for DACA, you must pay a filing fee of $465, submit to a background check, and satisfy the following requirements:
- (1) You were born on June 16, 1981 or later;
- (2) You came to the United States before you turned 16;
- (3) You have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007;
- (4) You have not left the United States since August 15, 2012;
- (5) You have been living in the United States without status since June 15, 2012 or before;
- (6) You are currently in school, have completed high school, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or the U.S. Armed Forces; and
- (7) You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Definition of a significant misdemeanor
As noted, if you have committed a significant misdemeanor, you will not be eligible for DACA. A significant misdemeanor refers to any offense involving:
- domestic violence;
- sexual abuse or exploitation;
- unlawful possession or use of a firearm;
- drug distribution or trafficking; or
- driving under the influence.
It also includes any offense involving a sentence of more than 90 days of actual confinement.
Traveling outside the United States
If you wish to travel outside of the United States, you must wait until you have been granted DACA — and even then, you must be granted advance parole.
If you have not yet been granted DACA and you leave the United States, you will be considered ineligible for DACA.
Likewise, if you are granted DACA and leave the United States without receiving advance parole, your DACA grant will be terminated, and you could be subject to removal.
If you are interested in applying for DACA, contact me today.