By CAROLINA VALDIVIA
The following are FAQ’s regarding DACA gathered from both my blog and questions I get asked in person.
1) Can I apply for DACA even though I’m still in high school/haven’t graduated yet? Yes. One of the requirements for DACA is to be currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States. If you meet all the other 6 requirements and are still completing high school, you can apply for DACA. (More information about this requirement from the USCIS official site- “DACA FAQs“)
2) I graduated from high school or have a GED, but I’m no longer in school, can I apply for DACA? Yes. Even if you’re not currently in school, you would still be meeting the education requirement by having obtained a GED or high school diploma. If you meet all the other 6 requirements, you can apply for DACA. Note- Check USCIS link above for more info on the remaining requirements to qualify for DACA.
3) I can’t afford my DACA application, how can I get help? 1) You can contact local pro-immigrant organizations in your area to find out if there are any private scholarships available. Find out the details such as requirements and deadlines. 2) Get creative and fundraise. You can sell some type of food (e.g. tamales, posole, cupcakes), crafts you know how to make or can learn how to make (e.g. pins, bracelets, beanies, scarves), or set-up a donation link via sites such as chip-in and spread the word to friends, family, and the community. The extent to which you fundraise and spread the word may be limited of course by resources, time, money, and contacts, BUT if you can- it never hurts to be creative and pay for all or most of the DACA application fee.
Last, but not least, there are limited circumstances under which one may qualify and receive a DACA fee exemption. For this, here is the official USCIS link with more info about requirements and applying for a fee exemption:”Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Fee Exemption” I will also have a separate post coming soon about the process itself.
4) Should I get a lawyer to fill out/submit my DACA? It depends. Every case is different, thus every decision of getting a lawyer or not will differ. However, my advice is to explore your options. Because more often than not, one does not simply have $2,500 to spend on the application and lawyer fees, it is important to read the application regardless. So get informed. Read through the instructions and try to fill out the application by yourself or with free help from activists/friends/family. If your application has any red flags or spaces left blank that you’re unsure about, ask for help. Search engines and friends who are involved are a good resource. There might also be some inexpensive options if you ask/search around.
For example, there are lawyers charging low-cost fees to review your application. That is, you fill out the application and are ready to send it, except before you send it, you have the lawyer review it. They will then make suggestions or tell you it’s all good to send. Prices for this service range and not all lawyers do this, but I’ve heard of some lawyers charging $25, $50, $75 to review DACA applications. Again, depends on the lawyer, but it’s not too expensive.
There are also lawyers charging the minimum cost. This varies too because there is no one standard minimum cost for lawyers helping out with DACA, but I know of lawyers charging $750, $1000, and $2000 is the most I’ve heard of. The cheaper deal you can get the better. Quick tips- it’s best to go with a reputable lawyer. That is, a lawyer who is either recognized in the community for their work in immigration law or who has been present at DACA clinics for example. Getting legal advice can be helpful, but it can also end up costing you more than planned if you’re not safe about finding the right lawyer. Thus, don’t go with the very first lawyer you talk to, explore your options, and ask lots of questions.
Personally, I got a lawyer who charged me $1000 (I did 4 payments of $250 every month). I wish I hadn’t gotten a lawyer though because I could’ve done the application myself, but I applied when we at first still didn’t know how USCIS would handle DACA applications. I have friends who after that have gotten a lawyer too, but I also have friends who have gone with other options such as filling it out themselves or having a lawyer review it. It is entirely up to you and your case.
5) Do I have to transfer my credit history to my new SSN if previously I used an ITIN? Yes. After getting approved for DACA, you have to apply to get a SSN: “Social Security Number and Card- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals“. Once you have applied and received your SSN, you can now transfer any credit history to your new SSN. For example, it might have been the case that before you had an ITIN to file taxes. Now, because you have a SSN, you can’t use both an ITIN and a SSN, everything will now be under your SSN. It is important to transfer your credit history from your ITIN to your SSN though AND to rescind your ITIN. More details on how to complete this step, including letters to send, addresses, copies, and more, can be found here: “Life After DACA: Obtaining a Social Security Number, Transferring your Credit History, and Rescinding your ITIN”
6) I am currently married and/or have children whom I could petition under for legal permanent residency, should I still apply for DACA? Yes, you can still apply for DACA if you meet all seven requirements. Having children and/or being married will not affect your DACA application. The benefits of applying to DACA involve being able to receive a work authorization and relief from deportation for 2 years, after which point DACA may be renewed. Even if you can apply for legal permanent residency, but haven’t done so yet or you will soon/once you can apply- it doesn’t hurt to apply for DACA in the meantime. If you have a path to legal permanent residency and/or citizenship right now, it’d be best to apply for that. However, for multiple reasons, you may not be able to do so quite yet. Again, in that case, applying for DACA will not hurt future applications for residency/citizenship nor your DACA application.
7) Can I and should I apply for Advanced Parole to travel outside of the United States? If approved for DACA, one can separately apply for Advanced Parole to travel for humanitarian, work, and/or school purposes. To do so, one will have to fill out and submit Form I-131: “Travel Documents”
8) How many people have applied and been approved/rejected for DACA? USCIS has published the following up-to-date document with the numbers of individuals who have applied, been approved/rejected, have been scheduled for a biometrics appointment, or are pending review, and other important/interesting information regarding DACA applications: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process”
9) Where can I get more help to learn about DACA, fill out my paperwork, and submit it? The best site up-to-date that I have come across to receive guidance on applying for DACA is the following link by Educators for Fair Consideration: “Step-by-Step Guide For DREAMers Applying for DACA” Click on this link to get more information on what DACA is and why it was implemented, figuring out if DACA is for you, understanding your eligibility, getting legal help, gathering your application documents, and more. This link does not only have reliable information, but it’s also free, accessible if you have access to a computer, and it’s very detailed!
10) Is Deferred Action (DACA) the Federal DREAM Act? No, DACA and the Federal DREAM Act are different. DACA was announced on June 15, 2012 by the Obama Administration. Through DACA, individuals who qualify and are approved, can receive temporary work authorization and relief from deportation. USCIS began accepting applications on August 15, 2012. The Federal DREAM Act is legislation first introduced in 2001. If passed, the Federal DREAM Act would offer a path to citizenship to individuals who meet several requirements. The requirements with each version of the Federal DREAM Act differ, but are similar to the requirements of DACA. However, the Federal DREAM Act has not passed.
Categories: Applying for DACA