DREAMers Prepare for Deferred Action Renewal

In the two years since President Obama created a temporary resident status for DREAMers, nearly 500,000 young people have been approved for this status, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation. But for some, this status is about to expire.

Obama created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to give young people without legal status who meet certain requirements the right to work in the U.S. legally for two years. This status can be renewed. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released guidelines that show people how to renew.

Applicants must meet an education requirement, criminal guidelines and a residency requirement. They must apply within 120 days of their status expiring or they will accrue unlawful presence and won’t be allowed to work.

To be eligible for DACA, applicants had to either be enrolled in school, had graduated from high school or received a certificate of completion, had a general educational development certificate (GED), or be a veteran honorably discharged from the U.S. military.

The renewal education requirement only applies to those people who applied for DACA while they were in school. They must still be in school and have made considerable progress in their education program, be enrolled in a new or different education program or have completed their program and gotten a job. Education programs include traditional education (for example, high school or college), vocational programs, career-training programs and literacy programs.

To meet the criminal guidelines, officially called “National Security and Public Safety Guidelines,” applicants cannot have been convicted of any serious crimes since they received their status—specifically a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors. It also states they must “not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.”  More information about this guideline is on the USCIS website.

To meet the residency requirement, applicants must not have left the U.S. since they received DACA without first getting advance parole (a document that allows you to reenter the U.S. after traveling abroad), have kept their residence in the U.S., and must be in the U.S. when they apply.

All applicants must include documentation that proves they meet these renewal requirements along with the general requirements to be eligible to DACA (such as the age requirement). They will be required to file USCIS forms I-821D, I-765 and I-765WS—the application for DACA and an application for a work permit. The total cost is $456 USD. The USCIS might be releasing a new version of Form I-821D specifically for renewals. Applicants are advised to look for this form before starting the renewal process.