DACA

(This page was last updated on January 2023)

At My Undocumented Life, we have created this page on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to provide you with up-to-date information and resources regarding DACA, including where to find reliable sources of information, the latest news, information on how to renew your DACA, ways to advocate for DACA, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Latest Updates on DACA

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision on October 5, 2022 means that the future of DACA is still uncertain. USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) is still processing DACA renewal requests and applications for advanced parole, but they are not currently processing new DACA applications. 

As stated on their website, “At this time, this ruling does not affect current grants of DACA and related Employment Authorization Documents. Consistent with the court’s order [PDF] (PDF) and the ongoing partial stay, we will continue to accept and process renewal DACA requests, accompanying requests for employment authorization, and applications for advance parole for current DACA recipients, and will continue to accept but not process initial DACA requests.” For more information, please visit their official website: USCIS DACA

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1. Can I apply for DACA?  

Answer 1: If you already have DACA, you are able to renew, however, USCIS is unfortunately not processing new DACA applications at this time. Check out these posts with information on the DACA application process and timelines. If you have already applied for and received DACA, check out our Life After DACA posts to learn about the experiences of fellow DACAmented young adults and opportunities available, such as building your credit history with DACA.

Question 2: Can I apply for DACA even though I’m still in high school/haven’t graduated yet?

Answer 2: No. Unfortunately, several court cases have limited DACA and USCIS is not processing new DACA applications at the moment. 

Question 3: How do I renew my DACA?

Answer 3: Make sure to browse through our Renewing DACA posts for information and resources on the renewal process, what to expect, timelines, and more. Some organizations have also posted information on how to renew your DACA as well as opportunities to access funding to pay for your DACA renewal. This includes this step-by-step handout created by Immigrants Rising; this list of immigrant rights organizations by state compiled by United We Dream; and this map to help you locate an organization near you where you might be able to obtain help with your DACA renewal created by Informed Immigrant.

Question 4: I can’t afford my DACA renewal application, how can I get help? 

Answer 4: Make sure to subscribe to our blog because we feature scholarship opportunities open to undocumented students, including those that are specifically for DACA applications. You can also contact local pro-immigrant organizations in your area to find out if there are any private scholarships available. 

Question 5: Should I get a lawyer to fill out/submit/renew my DACA? 

Answer 5: First we should point out that we cannot give any legal advice regarding this issue. Below is one perspective regarding this matter.

The short answer is that it depends. The long answer: it’s an impossible question to answer here given that every case is different, thus every decision of getting a lawyer (or not) will vary. You may want to explore your options and familiarize yourself with the DACA application forms. Read through the instructions and try to fill out the application by yourself and/or with help from organizers, friends, and family members. 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.

Also keep in mind that your case may be more complex than you may think. Because the law is complex, even if you feel confident about your application, there may be specific facts about your own case that can ultimately affect the outcome. Only a qualified and competent immigration attorney would be able to assist you.

There are lawyers charging low-cost fees to review your application. That is, you fill out the application and 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. Again, it depends on the lawyer.

For suggestions on how to find a good immigration lawyer, see our previous post on Informed Immigrants’ Guide on finding a lawyer. 

Question 6. Can I travel outside the country with DACA?

Answer 6: If you have benefited from DACA, you may be eligible to travel abroad. Check out our Advance Parole (AP) posts to learn about the AP application process and opportunities to travel abroad for undocumented youth with DACA. Here you will also find the stories, timelines, and pieces of advice of DACAmented youth who have traveled under advance parole.

Question 7: Do I have to transfer my credit history to my new SSN if I previously used an ITIN? 

Answer 7: 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 in the past 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. For more information please see this handout compiled by Immigrants Rising: “ITINS, EINS, and Taxes”.

Question 8: Is Deferred Action (DACA) the Federal DREAM Act? 

Answer 8: 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 vary, but are similar to the requirements of DACA. However, the Federal DREAM Act has yet to pass.

Call to Action: How to Advocate for DACA

Several organizations are leading initiatives to advocate for DACA. Check out ways to get involved!

From United We Dream: “We’re taking our fight to the Democratic-controlled Congress, where they can deliver permanent protections for us and all undocumented people. As I’m writing this, our team is planning advocacy efforts to demand that Democrats in Congress deliver permanent protections before the end of the year when a new Congress is sworn in.”

DACA Reports & Articles

Research has captured the benefits of receiving DACA. Recent publications on this topic include:

  1. Tom K. Wong of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at the University of California, San Diego; United We Dream; the National Immigration Law Center; and the Center for American Progress conducted survey data in 2019 with 1,105 DACA recipients to better understand the benefits of DACA.
  2. Article from Migration Policy Institute on June 9, 2022 about the benefits of DACA.

Events Related to DACA

[Recorded past event: October 10, 2022] The Presidents’ Alliance and co-sponsors, TheDream.US, FWD.us, Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law, and the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA, hosted a “Rapid Response Briefing on the Fifth Circuit Ruling on the Legality of DACA“. Watch the recording here

Recent News Media Coverage on DACA

January 13, 2023

For undocumented youth, DACA is a lifeline” (Daily Trojan) – “As an undocumented person, I have always felt as though I had to hide in the shadows of the U.S., due to a lack of support. As children arrive in the U.S., we do not hold citizenship nor the benefits granted to citizens. However, we were raised in the U.S. and, being in the country, we have an excellent knowledge of it — the history, culture and language — only to not be recognized as Americans no matter how hard we try.”

October 5, 2022

“An appeals court rules against DACA, but the program continues — for now.” (NPR) – “The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a federal district judge in Texas should take another look at the program following the revisions adopted in August. The ruling, for now, leaves the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals up in the air.”

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