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Guidance for DACA Recipients and Legal Practitioners – Frequently Asked Questions

[UPDATE ON 4/12/2022] – The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that DACA renewals can now be filed online. Current DACA recipients must first create a USCIS online account in order to file Forms I-821D (DACA) and I-765 (application for work authorization) online. The online account provides a quick and easy method of submitting forms, paying fees, and tracking the status of USCIS applications. This is only applicable to DACA renewal requests. No first-time initial DACA requests will be granted at this time.

The expansion of the online filing for DACA applications will be helpful for many DACA recipients. However, it is always recommended to receive assistance from an accredited organization or an immigration attorney when filing any  immigration documents.  

DACA continues to be subject to litigation and we are still waiting on the proposed DACA rule to become finalized. For the latest developments on DACA, please see the DACA State of Play. For now, USCIS allows those who currently have DACA, or those whose DACA expired less than a year ago, to continue to renew. No first-time initial DACA requests will be granted at this time. We encourage you to periodically visit our website and follow us on social media to learn of any new developments. 

What should I keep in mind when renewing my DACA?

If you currently have DACA, your DACA and work permit are still valid. First-time Initial DACA requests that are already granted, as well as renewals, will continue to be valid for now. You can still use your social security number and work permit; everything stays the same with your current DACA status. Don’t let your DACA and work permit expire. Consider renewing, ideally with the assistance from an accredited organization or an immigration attorney now! 

USCIS encourages renewals to be filed between 120 and 150 days prior to the expiration of your DACA. However, USCIS will accept your forms before 150 days but USCIS may not currently process them until your request is within 150 days of expiration. While USCIS does not currently process formal expedite requests from DACA requestors, it is our understanding that USCIS may still consider circumstances– such as those described on USCIS’ expedite request webpage— that warrant more expeditious processing. We therefore encourage you to include any information that may be helpful to USCIS in processing your renewal on a cover letter that you include with your renewal DACA and employment authorization filing. 

Questions on First-Time (Initial) DACA  Requests:

In 2021, Judge Hanen ruled that USCIS can no longer grant DACA to new DACA requestors. I have never had DACA before and filed a request before the Hanen decision. I completed my biometrics; what will happen next? 

Hanen’s order prohibits USCIS from granting any first-time initial DACA requests at this time.  If you filed your first-time initial DACA request with USCIS but it was NOT granted, USCIS continues to hold your request and your payment but will not approve or deny your request until further notice. 

Are first-time DACA requests automatically rejected now?

USCIS can still accept first-time initial DACA requests (meaning USCIS will not reject and return your request) but cannot grant requests based upon Hanen’s order. 

I was planning on sending my first-time request out soon. Should I still?

Hanen’s order prohibits USCIS from granting any first-time initial DACA requests at this time. We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before filing your request. As litigation proceeds through the courts, we will keep you updated here. 

Am I at risk of deportation now?

President Biden and DHS have made it clear that Dreamers are not a priority for deportation. Even Judge Hanen’s order states that this court decision does “not require DHS or Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual.”

ICE is currently required to follow Enforcement and Removal Priorities published on February 18, 2021 that set out who is considered a removal priority. We recommend that you consult an immigration attorney or accredited representative if you believe you fall under an enforcement and removal priority category. 

Notwithstanding the above, if  you have any problems with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP), please call 1-844-363-1423, UWD’s MigraWatch Hotline, as well as your Senator or Representative, who may be able to liaise with ICE on your behalf.

Questions on DACA Renewals:

Are renewal DACA requests being processed?

Yes – If your DACA has not expired or expired less than a year ago, USCIS will continue accepting and processing DACA renewal requests until there is a court order saying otherwise.

If you currently have DACA, your DACA and work permit are valid for the issuance period listed in your approval notice and work permit.  First-time Initial DACA requests that are already granted, as well as renewals, will continue to be valid for now. You can still use your social security number and work permit.

Don’t let your DACA and work permit expire. Consider renewing, ideally with the assistance from an accredited organization or an immigration attorney.  If your DACA expires soon, renew now! 

Should I renew early?

We encourage you to renew as soon as possible. USCIS encourages renewals to be filed between 120 and 150 days prior to the expiration of your DACA. However, USCIS will accept your forms before 150 days but USCIS may not currently process them until your request is within 150 days of expiration. If you are thinking about renewing early, we recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before filing your renewal. 

Can I submit an expedited request for my DACA?

While USCIS does not currently process formal expedite requests from DACA requestors, it is our understanding that USCIS may still consider circumstances– such as those described on USCIS’ expedite request webpage— that warrant more expeditious processing. We therefore encourage you to include any information that may be helpful to USCIS in processing your renewal on a cover letter that you include with your DACA renewal and work authorization filing. 

How long will USCIS be accepting DACA renewal filings?

USCIS will continue accepting and processing DACA renewal requests until there is a court order saying otherwise. The Biden Administration has appealed Judge Hanen’s decision, and there may be other litigation that may impact timing. So the timing is unknown but we will update this Guidance with any developments. 

I would like to renew my deferred action and work authorization under DACA, but my DACA lapsed for a year or more. What does this mean for me? 

If you submit a DACA request a year or more after your last DACA grant expired or after your most recent DACA grant was terminated (at any time), your request is considered an initial request and will not be granted. USCIS has stated that it will issue receipt notices and accept payment for such requests, but will not process or approve these filings. This guidance has been updated in accordance with the guidance provided by USCIS. 

Questions on Advance Parole:

Is advance parole open for DACA recipients right now?

According to the latest guidance  from USCIS, the agency will continue to process and grant advance parole to current DACA recipients. We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before applying for advance parole and before traveling outside the U.S.

I was approved for advance parole, how will the Hanen decision affect me?

According to the latest guidance from USCIS , the agency will continue to process and grant advance parole to current DACA recipients. We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before applying for advance parole and before traveling outside the U.S.

My advance parole request is still pending. Will USCIS process it?

According to the latest guidance from USCIS, the agency will continue to process and grant advance parole to current DACA recipients. We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before applying for advance parole and before traveling outside the U.S.

I have DACA and am currently outside the United States with advance parole. Can I still return to the U.S. using my advance parole under DACA? 

According to the latest guidance from USCIS, the agency will continue to process and grant advance parole to current DACA recipients. We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before applying for advance parole and before traveling outside the U.S.  The Hanen ruling permits Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to honor advance parole granted to DACA recipients by USCIS but the individual will still be subject to an immigration inspection at the port of entry.

Next Steps 

Who can appeal Judge Hanen’s decision?

Any party can appeal the decision. An appeal has been filed and is at the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. We don’t yet know how long it would take to have a new decision or order. After a decision from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, any party could appeal further to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

I heard that the processing of DACA requests is taking a long time. What is the current status?

Anecdotally we’ve heard that most DACA renewal requests have been processed within the goal of 120 days and in some cases even faster. In March 2022, USCIS announced changes to processing times and established new internal cycle time goals. New cycle time goals include 6 months for I-821D DACA Renewals. It’s hard to determine at this stage what this means for DACA renewal processing. It is our hope that this will improve DACA renewal processing  times rather than create a backlog and subject DACA renewal requesters to longer wait times. You can look up processing times per service center here and your case status here

Am I at risk of deportation if my DACA request cannot be granted?

President Biden and DHS have made it clear that Dreamers are not a priority for deportation. Even Judge Hanen said in his order that this court decision does “not require DHS or Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual.”

ICE is currently required to follow Enforcement and Removal Priorities published on February 18, 2021 that set out who is considered a removal priority.

If you currently have DACA, the best protection against deportation is to ensure that you don’t lose this protection. If your DACA expires soon, renew now! 

What can we do? 

It’s important that Congress pass legislation that provides permanent solutions for undocumented youth with or without DACA, TPS holders, farmworkers, essential workers and our family members, and President Biden agrees. If you’re a DACA recipient, know that you are lawfully present in the U.S. and have rights. Check in on your DACA friends today.

Take Action

We’ve known since the beginning that DACA is not enough. Democrats in Congress made a promise to build back better for all communities. Yet, immigrant communities have yet to see meaningful action. The Biden Administration campaigned on creating a humane immigration system, expanding programs like DACA and TPS, and providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. With deportations and expulsions spiking under the Biden administration, President Biden has a choice to make: either be on the side of Americans and deliver a pathway to citizenship or choose to leave millions vulnerable to the grips of ICE and CBP. Can you ADD YOUR NAME and demand that the Biden Administration and Democrats deliver on their promises to protect immigrant communities?

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