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What is DACA and who qualifies?

On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration created Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”), a program that provides temporary protection from deportation to certain individuals who came to the United States as children. DACA is not a path to citizenship but does allow eligible individuals to apply for a “work permit.” With a valid work permit, an individual may get a social security card and driver’s license or state ID. The initial two-year period may be renewed for qualifying individuals.

On June 18, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court determined that the administration’s decision to terminate DACA was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated the Administrative Procedure Act. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, DACA recipients can continue to renew their deferred action status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In addition, USCIS is now accepting initial DACA applications for those who have not yet applied.

To qualify for DACA, an individual must:

  • have come to the U.S. under the age of 16;
  • have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years after June 15, 2012 and have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
  • be in school currently, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.;
  • have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and
  • not be above the age of 30 on June 15, 2012.

Individuals may still apply for DACA if they have pending petitions or applications for other relief, such as a U Visa. For additional information visit the USCIS website.

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