What should the DACA renewal process look like?

Over half a million DREAMers have received two-year temporary status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The first wave of these DACA recipients, have work authorization cards that are due to expire in the summer and fall. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has made clear that individuals who have not committed certain crimes or otherwise violated the DACA guidelines will be able to renew their DACA for two more years. What is unclear is just what the renewal process will look like. USCIS released a proposed new DACA application form and instructions two months ago. However, USCIS should make the renewal process more streamlined, cost-effective, and accessible for all. One of the biggest problems is that thousands of DACA recipients will fall out of status despite filing timely renewal applications. USCIS’s current plan is to allow renewal requestors to apply only within 120 days before the expiration of their current deferred action period. However, USCIS usually takes longer than 120 days to process DACA applications. There will be an avalanche of renewal applications in the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 (nearly 250,000 will expire during that period). If it can’t keep up with the applications, losing DACA means losing work authorization and driving privileges, and accumulating of unlawful presence, which could impact eligibility for future immigration benefits. Businesses will be affected since they may hve to fire or suspend DACA recipients. If DACA recipients lose their jobs, this also means fewer customers for some businesses. An easy fix would be to automatically extend a renewal requestor’s deferred action until the agency makes a decision on the request. Alternatively, the agency could encourage DACA recipients to request renewal prior to 120 days before their DACA expires. There is no reason why the renewal should be the same $465 fee as the initial application. Costs to review the renewal should be less for the agency, and consequently should be less for the applicant. The agency could also institute a less-stringent fee exemption policy. We also hope that the agency will consider opening DACA to a subsequent group of people. Instead of limiting the pool of people to June 12, 2007, we hope they will advance this period by two years. For example, allow people who entered the U.S. before turning 16 before June 15, 2009, rather than June 15, 2007, while satisfying the other requirements. That would expand the pool of recipients. Each case will be considered on a case-by-case basis. There probably will continue to be no appeals. IF you have ever been arrested or had any contact with gangs you shouldn’t file without an attorney. If you want more information, request a FREE copy of our book, “Pitfalls of Obama’s Deferred Action for DREAMers” by clicking here.

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