Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a special program created by President Obama through Executive Order, that provides temporary authorization for undocumented persons who arrived as children to the US, to remain in the US. It defers the action of removing them from the US for a specific period. During this time, they may study and work in the US. One must apply to USCIS for DACA and under current policy, DACA can be renewed every two years.
At this point, it is advised that students on DACA do not pursue international travel, including study abroad, study away, or international service learning trips.
October 2022 Update
- On August 30, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security published a final DACA rule that went into effect October 31, 2022. That rule can be found online in the Federal Register.
- Due to a prior court injunction, DHS is unable to grant initial DACA requests or employment authorization under this final rule. The injunction was partially stayed, so DHS is still granting DACA renewal requests but cannot approve new DACA requests.
- Students who are applying for a DACA renewal or who are considering a first-time DACA application should discuss their situation with an experienced immigration attorney who is familiar with DACA and options for undocumented students.
Eligibility for DACA
You may be eligible for DACA if you meet all of the following criteria:
- Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, meaning that you never had a lawful immigration status on or before June 15, 2012, or any lawful immigration status or parole that you obtained prior to June 15, 2012, had expired as of June 15, 2012
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States
- Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
If you believe you are eligible for an initial DACA application or if you wish to renew your current DACA authorization, you should discuss your situation with an experienced immigration attorney. You can find additional resources and organizations below.
Resources for Undocumented Students
Advocacy and Legal Aid Organizations
- Immigrant Legal Resource Center
- United We Dream
- Immigrants Rising
- AIC Legal Action Center - Practice Advisory
- National Immigration Services Directory
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
External Financial Aid and Scholarships
- College Board Resource for Undocumented Students
- FinAid Financial Aid and Scholarships for Undocumented Students
- Immigrants Rising List of Undergraduate Scholarships
- Immigrants Rising List of Graduate Scholarships
Social Security Cards
Students on DACA with an EAD (employment authorization card) may apply to the Social Security Office for a Social Security Number (SSN). SSA's informational handout SSN Applications for DACA may also be helpful.
Federal and State Taxes
DACA students who earned income will be required to file income tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service under the same tax laws that residents follow.
Past Updates and Legislation Information
October 2022 Update
- The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas extended its July 2021 injunction to cover the August 30, 2022 final DACA rule, confirming that DHS is not permitted to grant DACA status for new applicants but can accept and grant DACA renewal applications.
July 2021 Update
- On July 16, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas Brownsville Division ruled that the DACA program was unlawful. The court issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting DHS from approving new DACA applications. This does not affect DACA benefits that have already been granted, and those who have already been approved for DACA are eligible to apply for renewal.
January 2021 Update
- In accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision and subsequent order from a U.S. District Court, USCIS is accepting first-time requests for DACA as well as requests for DACA renewal.
- On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued a memorandum regarding preserving and fortifying DACA.
December 7, 2020 Update
- In compliance with a U.S. District Court order, USCIS is accepting first-time requests as well as renewal requests for DACA based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017.
- USCIS will also accept applications for advance parole documents based on the terms of the DACA policy prior to September 5, 2017.
June 18, 2020 Update
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the way in which the Trump administration rescinded the DACA program was unlawful. This decision restores the DACA program.
- Current DACA recipients continue to be protected and are eligible to apply for renewals.
- Those who meet eligibility requirements for DACA and who had not applied in the past should be eligible to apply. USCIS and the Trump administration have not yet provided clarification on this point.
January 13, 2018 Update
- USCIS announced on January 13, 2018 that, as per federal court order, it has resumed accepting applications to renew grants of deferred action under DACA. According to the statement by USCIS, DACA will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on September 5, 2017.
- Persons whose DACA authorization expired on or after September 5, 2016, may apply for a renewal.
- New applications for DACA will not be accepted.
- Applications for advance parole will not be accepted.
- See https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-response-January-2018-preliminary-injunction
- Students who may benefit from this development should contact an immigration attorney.
September 5, 2017 Update
The Trump Administration announced today that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is initiating "the orderly wind down of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)."
Here are links to the Department of Homeland Security's website regarding the announcement:
- Press Release: Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- DHS Memorandum on the Rescission of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Frequently Asked Questions: Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Statement from Acting Secretary Duke on the Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
- Fact Sheet: Rescission Of Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Legislative Information and Action
S.3542 - BRIDGE Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate on December 9, 2016. The bill was sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and presented for himself and Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). It was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. Here is a link to the text and information about S.3542.
A helpful summary of the bill can be found on the website of the National Immigration Law Center.