Guide

Guidance for DACA Recipients and Legal Practitioners – Frequently Asked Questions

[UPDATE ON 10/26/2023] – On September 13, 2023, Judge Hanen in Texas found the new 2022 DACA regulations unlawful for similar reasons that he had previously found DACA under the 2012 policy memorandum unlawful. But the court again partially paused its decision, which allows current DACA recipients to continue to renew and apply for advance parole if they are eligible while the decision is appealed to higher courts. 

For now, those who currently have DACA, or those whose DACA has expired within one year, can continue to renew and advance parole remains available. Initial DACA requests (and late renewal requests from those whose DACA expired over a year ago) can be filed, but will not be granted at this time. The litigation is ongoing and we encourage you to periodically visit our website and follow us on social media to learn of any new developments.  To receive the latest updates and developments on DACA ,sign up here

I currently have DACA. How does the latest court ruling affect me?

If you currently have DACA, your DACA and work permit are still valid. 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! Also consider discussing travel on Advance Parole with an accredited organization or immigration attorney.

Questions on first-time (initial) DACA requests.

Judge Hanen ruled again that USCIS cannot grant DACA to new DACA requestors. I have never had DACA before and filed a request before the recent Hanen decisions. What will happen next?

Judge Hanen’s recent orders, like his 2021 order,  prohibit 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 or denied, 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?

No. USCIS can still accept first-time initial DACA requests (meaning USCIS will not reject and return your request) but cannot grant requests at this time due to Judge Hanen’s orders. 

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

Judge Hanen’s orders prohibit USCIS from granting any first-time initial DACA requests at this time, even though initial requests can be accepted for filing. 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.

Does the new DACA rule change anything?

Not currently. The rule has been partially enjoined by Judge Hanen, and first-time requests will not be granted. However, renewals and advance parole continue for current recipients of DACA.

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 orders state that his 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.”

If you do have any problems with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP), please download Notifica from UWD’s Deportation Defense 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 within one year, USCIS will continue accepting and processing DACA renewal requests unless and until there is a higher court order saying otherwise. 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 recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative to determine the best timing for your DACA renewal request.  Due to the ongoing litigation, there may be a limited window of opportunity to apply for renewal. USCIS encourages renewals to be filed between 120 and 150 days prior to the expiration of your DACA. However, USCIS will accept renewal forms earlier than 150 days before expiration. USCIS may hold early-filed requests and not process them until they are within 150 days of the current DACA period expiration. Or, USCIS may process early-filed requests quickly, which could result in cutting short the current DACA grant and having the new DACA grant expire sooner than it would have if the renewal had been processed later. 

Can I submit an expedite 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 in a cover letter that you include with your DACA renewal filing. 

Can I file online?

Yes, DACA renewals can be filed online. Current DACA recipients must first create a USCIS online account in order to file Forms I-821D (DACA), I-765 (application for work authorization) and I-765WS online. The online account provides a potentially quick method of submitting forms, paying fees, and tracking the status of USCIS applications. This is only applicable to DACA renewal requests. It is always recommended to receive assistance from an accredited organization or an immigration attorney when filing any immigration documents and they may be able to help troubleshoot issues when applying online. 

How should I pay for my renewal?

You should include two separate payments in your request, one for each form. For example, if you are paying by check you must include a check for $410 for the Form I-765 and a separate check for $85 for the Form I-821D. Checks that are made for $495 (the full cost of requesting DACA) may be returned and USCIS may reject the entire package. USCIS has indicated that it will no longer accept one bundled payment (check, money order, etc.) for all the forms you include in your request for DACA.

If you need financial help, please see “Additional Resources” at bottom.

How long will USCIS be accepting DACA renewal filings?

USCIS is likely to continue accepting and processing DACA renewal requests until there is a court order mandating otherwise. Judge Hanen ruled that DACA under the new rule is unlawful. (Judge Hanen and the Fifth Circuit also previously ruled that DACA under the 2012 memorandum is unlawful). However, Judge Hanen has permitted renewals to continue to be processed and granted by USCIS, for now. It is likely that Judge Hanen’s recent orders will be appealed. 

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, your request is currently considered by USCIS as an initial request and will not be granted at this time. USCIS will accept these requests for filing, accept the payment and issue receipt notices, but will not process or approve these filings at this time. See the guidance provided by USCIS.

Does the new DACA rule change anything?

Not really. The new DACA rule went into effect on October 31, 2022, except as to initial DACA requests. The new rule maintains the same eligibility requirements and process as the 2012 DACA policy. Judge Hanen has ruled that both the new rule and the 2012 policy are unlawful, but has permitted renewals to continue for now. 

Questions on Advance Parole

Is advance parole open for DACA recipients right now?

Yes. According to the current guidance from USCIS, the agency will continue to process and grant advance parole for 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. Due to the ongoing litigation, there may be a limited window of opportunity to apply for advance parole.

I was approved for advance parole, how will the Fifth Circuit’s decision and Judge Hanen’s decision affect me?

We recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative before traveling outside the U.S. Judge Hanen’s decision 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. It is unclear how travel on advance parole will be impacted by future court orders.

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

According to the current 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 traveling outside the U.S. Judge Hanen’s decision permits US 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. It is unclear how travel on advance parole will be impacted by future court orders.

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? 

Judge Hanen’s decision permits 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. It is unclear how travel on advance parole will be impacted by future court orders.

Next Steps

Will Judge Hanen’s latest decision be appealed?

After Judge Hanen’s September 13, 2023 decision, any party could appeal further to the Fifth Circuit and, from there, 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 many DACA renewal requests have been processed within 90 days. 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 what this means for DACA renewal processing since many cases are processed much faster. 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 recent order that his decision does not require “DHS or the Department of Justice to take any immigration, deportation, or criminal action against any DACA recipient, applicant, or any other individual that would not otherwise be taken.”

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 now?

It’s important that Congress pass legislation that provides pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including immigrant youth and DACA recipients. If you’re a DACA recipient, know that you are lawfully present in the U.S. and have rights.

Take Action

We’ve known since the beginning that DACA is not enough. Now more than ever, we need President Biden to be bold in protecting DACA recipients and DACA-eligible youth by defending DACA in court and pushing Congress to take action to pass permanent protections, like citizenship, for all undocumented people.

Democrats must take action now! The writing is on the wall, unless Biden and Congress take action soon, DACA will end on their watch. They must ACT NOW to permanently protect all immigrant youth, our families, and our communities. Text “HOME IS HERE” to 787-57 to demand action NOW! 

We won’t go back, we won’t back down. We are here to stay! Text DACAINFO to 787-57 to demand action RIGHT NOW and get the latest updates!

Additional Resources

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