Pennsylvania DACA Attorney Helping Clients Navigate the Current and Changing Processes
Coming to America is a dream that many people have. While some choose to immigrate in adulthood and are able to ensure that they go through the proper channels, what happens if you were brought to the United States as a child and had no control over your immigration status? In 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security recognized this as an issue and put the DACA policy in place to provide those people with an option so they could defer deportation action. Find out more about this policy, including the current rulings, to better understand if it applies to you.
If you are eligible, DACA can provide many benefits and protections to make it easier to work and study in the United States. However, the DACA rules and processes are in flux as legislation is proposed and changes are made to the program. To find out the latest about DACA, including how to apply and if you are eligible for renewal, contact The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh to speak with an attorney and get more information.
What Is DACA
DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This policy was originally established in 2012 by the Secretary of Homeland Security. Its purpose was to allow those who may have come to the United States as children without proper documentation a path forward to be able to live, work, and study legally in the country. Those who are approved under the DACA policy are granted deferred action on their immigration status for 2 years and are allowed to request work authorization. This gives the person time to be able to pursue a lawful immigration status. Those who are granted approval under DACA are eligible to apply for renewal, but only for those who are current DACA holders or who had it within the last year. Under the current rulings, if your DACA expired more than a year ago, you are treated as a first-time applicant.
Who Is Eligible Under DACA?
There are specific guidelines to be eligible for deferred action through DACA. You have to have been born before June 16, 1981, and you must have come to the United States before the age of 16. You must also have lived continuously in the country from June 15, 2007, to the date you file for DACA. Applicants must have been physically within the United States on June 15, 2012, when the DACA policy was announced.
If you are applying for DACA, you must not have had any legal immigration on or before June 15, 2012. If you had lawful immigration status after that date, it must have expired or ended before you can apply for DACA. You must also either be currently enrolled in high school or have graduated with your diploma or earned a GED. In lieu of the education requirement, you may also have an honorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces.
Lastly, there are specific restrictions on those with criminal records applying for DACA. You cannot have any felony convictions or have been convicted of three or more misdemeanors. If a misdemeanor charge is classified as significant under 8 CFR 236.22(b)(6)), it can bar you from applying for DACA. If you are determined to be a threat to public safety or national security, you cannot apply for DACA.
Keep in mind that you will need to provide documentation of all the preceding requirements to apply for DACA. If you have any questions about whether you are eligible or you aren’t sure how to obtain your documentation, an immigration attorney can help.
What Are the Benefits and Limitations of DACA?
Under the DACA policy, those approved are able to defer deportation for up to 2 years with the possibility of renewal. They are also able to receive driver’s licenses and can apply for work permits.
However, it’s important to note that DACA does not grant legal immigration status, and there are still restrictions for DACA holders. They are not eligible to receive amnesty or otherwise apply for legal permanent resident status or citizenship. Those approved for DACA are not able to vote, and any driver’s license they hold will be specifically marked as ineligible for any federal applications. DACA recipients are also ineligible for federal benefits. This includes federal financial aid for college and benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
What Is the Current State of DACA?
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of media attention and coverage on the DACA policy. This has led to court filings that have impacted how DACA applications are processed and how they may be handled in the future. As of May 2023, the DACA policy is still in effect but with some caveats. Those who are already approved under DACA or who have had DACA in the past year are still able to apply for renewal every two years.
However, on October 31, 2022, the DACA final rule went into effect, which put a stay on processing or approving any new applications. You can still submit an application, but nothing is being processed until further action is taken. This also applies to those who previously had DACA but have expired for more than one year because they are now treated as new applicants.
Whether you are applying for DACA for the first time or are trying to get a renewal processed, our law firm is here to help. Our experienced legal team understands how important the DACA program is and that it can be confusing to navigate alone. Call our Pennsylvania office at 717-900-1818 to speak with a member of our team and schedule a consultation to learn more about this policy and how our firm can help.