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When to Renew DACA

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The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created to assist individuals brought to the U.S. as children without legal status. Unfortunately, several court cases have stripped the DACA program back, leaving many unsure how and when to renew their DACA status. Correctly timing your DACA renewal is vital to ensure your work authorization does not lapse. In general, you should apply to renew 150 to 120 days before your current DACA expires.

The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh is here to help if you have any questions about renewing your DACA, or if you need assistance in filing the paperwork. We understand that DACA’s ups and downs have led to uncertainty and confusion for many. Our team is led by attorney Rosina Stambaugh, daughter of immigrants, and staffed by many immigrants with firsthand knowledge to help guide you through the system.

How Does DACA Work in 2024?

Many immigrants travel to the U.S. seeking a better life for themselves and their children. However, qualifying for long-term legal status in the U.S. is out of reach for many of those immigrants. As a result, many children who grew up in the U.S. are undocumented, despite the U.S. being the only home they have ever known. DACA was created in 2012 to assist these so-called “Dreamers.” DACA allowed them to work in America by issuing them an employment authorization document (EAD) and promising that ICE would not try to deport them as long as their DACA status was valid.

Unfortunately, the U.S. courts have stopped the DACA program from processing new applicants. However, the courts have permitted United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to continue the DACA program for those who qualified before July 16, 2021. Only those who had DACA status on or before that date can continue to qualify for such benefits.

What Do I Need to Renew My DACA?

In the face of the ups and downs the DACA program has gone through, it can be particularly confusing to know how to renew DACA. In brief, to renew DACA and your work authorization you have to submit:

You must also submit an $85 Form I-821 filing fee and a $410 Form I-765 filing fee. These fees should be paid in two separate checks or transactions. Note that the I-765 filing fee is set to increase on April 1, 2024. Thereafter, the I-765 fee will be $470 for an online filing and $520 for a paper filing. The I-821D fee will not change.

When Should I Renew My DACA?

USCIS officially begins processing DACA renewals 150 days before your current DACA expires. USCIS recommends you submit your renewal at least 120 days before your current DACA expires. If you miss the mark, USCIS does process applications submitted closer in time to your DACA expiration. However, you run the risk of being temporarily without DACA or employment authorization.

Applying 150 to 120 days before your DACA expires should allow USCIS enough time to process your request before your current status expires. However, USCIS struggles with backlogs, so it’s best to submit your renewal close to the 150-day mark.

What Happens If My DACA Expires Before Renewal?

With DACA’s uncertain validity over the years, many have been unsure whether renewal is worthwhile. In 2024, the terms of DACA’s continuing applicability have arrived at a somewhat settled state—yet, many may have let their DACA status lapse. If this describes you, you may be wondering, “Can I renew my DACA if it expired?”

Per USCIS’s current I-821D instructions, if you file within one year of your DACA’s expiration date, you can file your application as a renewal. If filed more than one year after your DACA has expired, you have to file as an initial application. However, USCIS is accepting new applications but not processing them—as the law now states that applications after July 16, 2021, will not be processed.

Therefore, if your DACA expires, you have one year to renew it. If you do not renew within that time, you will likely lose your eligibility for DACA.

Many EADs benefit from an automatic 180-day extension to their period of validity. This extension applies to timely filed EAD renewals, meaning renewal applications received by USCIS before the previous EAD’s expiration can benefit from this extension.

However, all DACA applicants should know that the automatic extension does not apply to DACA. If your DACA or EAD expires, you may lose their benefits, including your legal work authorization for as long as it takes to receive your renewed EAD.

We Can Help Renew Your DACA

Navigating the immigration system is complicated enough before you factor in complex court rulings that raise questions about DACA’s ongoing validity. At the Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh, we have years of experience working with DACA applicants and monitoring the program’s status. We can guide you through how and when to renew DACA to help minimize the chances of a lapse in your status and work authorization. Contact us today.

Author Photo

Rosina Stambaugh

Rosina C. Stambaugh, founder of The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh in York, brings a wealth of expertise to immigration law. With a focus on removal defense, Ms. Stambaugh has successfully litigated cases across various Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, offering comprehensive support to clients facing diverse immigration challenges. She also represents individuals and families applying for affirmative benefits with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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