What is DACA?
DACA, an acronym for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a policy that protects around 800,000 young people — known as “DREAMERS” — who entered the United States unlawfully as children. The program does not grant them official legal status or a pathway to citizenship, but it does allow them to apply for a driver’s license, social security number, and work permit.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: In July 2021, a federal judge ruled that first-time DACA applicants were barred from applying to the program. USCIS has confirmed that all individuals whose DACA requests were approved prior to July 16, 2021 will continue to have DACA status and all DACA requests that were approved before July 16 will continue to be eligible to renew DACA and DACA work permits. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also continue to accept the filing of initial DACA and employment authorization requests, but they cannot approve initial DACA and EAD requests on account of judge’s ruling.
Applicants must meet the following major DACA requirements:
- Entered the United States unlawfully prior to their 16th birthday
- Have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007
- Were under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (born on June 16, 1981 or after)
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are enrolled in school
- Have not been convicted of a felony or a serious misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
Immigrants up to the age of 31 can file for the protections and opportunities this program offers.