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Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has arrived! This is an amazing opportunity for DREAMers nationwide, and we're excited to present this detailed Step-by-Step Guide. Please forward this to any DREAMer who is considering applying for this program.

STEP 1: Take a Deep Breath — Figure Out Whether DACA is Right For You

Relax, there’s time! It’s important to learn as much as you can about DACA and figure out whether it makes sense for you to apply.

Here are some things you should be asking yourself:

  • Am I eligible for DACA?
  • Is now the right time to apply for DACA?
  • Given that DACA a temporary, discretionary program that could be terminated or changed at any time, what are the risks to applying?
  • Do I have any longer-term immigration remedies to pursue?

To find out more information about DACA, we suggest you review USCIS's official FAQ section. You can also check out E4FC's detailed DACA FAQs (created with Curran & Berger LLP), which will help you evaluate whether DACA makes sense for you.

Finally, if you want to know about other options, you can review our guide (created with Curran & Berger LLP) Beyond Deferred Action: Long-Term Immigration Remedies Every DREAMer Should Know About.

STEP 2: Understand Your Eligibility for DACA

Once you’ve decided to apply, you’ll want to confirm that you’re eligible.

For students living in the California Bay Area (that’s Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties), you can use E4FC’s free, anonymous, and online Case Analysis Service. We’ll help you understand your eligibility for DACA as well as longer-term immigration remedies.

For students living outside the California Bay Area, we encourage you to use We Own the Dream’s national online screening tool. This is an automated tool that will give you a preliminary understanding of your eligibility.

STEP 3: Not Sure Whether You’re Eligible? Get Legal Help

Confused about whether you’re eligible for DACA? Have a complicated case (i.e. have a criminal incident, traveled outside the U.S., etc.)? You’ll definitely want to talk to an attorney. You can look for an informational event in your area. We’ve also written some suggestions for how to look for an attorney.

STEP 4: Gather Your Application Documents

Confirmed that you’re eligible for DACA? Great! Now it’s time to start gathering your application documents.

First, carefully review the official USCIS instructions for gathering your pre-application documents.

Here’s a summary of what you’ll need:

  • Two (2) passport-style photographs (for the Employment Authorization application)
  • Copy of foreign passport biographic page and any prior visa & I-94 cards (if available)
  • Copy of original birth certificate and translation□ Copy of marriage certificate or divorce (if applicable)
  • Copy of every criminal and/or traffic court case on record (if applicable)
    • Every incident/arrest/police report. If you cannot get your record—eg. it is more than 5 years old and the police station records dept has destroyed it—then ask the police for a letter on letterhead saying that the record has been purged.
    • Every criminal complaint/charging document from the district attorney (or other prosecutor). That’s the court document a prosecutor first files with all of the charges against you and what they think you are potentially guilty of having committed from a single incident.
    • Every final criminal court disposition record. That’s the final ruling from the judge in your case stating the outcome after settlement or trial or dismissal; it should include your sentence and post-conviction sentencing information
    • Post-conviction showing that you completed all terms of probation/sentence. For example, if you are still on probation, it is something showing you are currently in compliance.

  • Copy of school records, such as:
    • Proof of Enrollment
    • Report Cards and/or Transcripts
    • School Identification Card(s)
    • Awards from high school (and college, if applicable)

    [*]Copy of high school diploma or GED certificate (if applicable)

    [*]Proof of entry prior to age 16, continuous residence in U.S. since June 15, 2007, and on June 15, 2012, such as:

    • Federal Income Tax Returns or Tax Transcripts (filed independently or as a dependent)
    • Employment records, letters from internships & volunteer work, medical records
    • Leases, rental receipts, other dated receipts, utility bills, cell phone bills
    • Bank statements, credit card statements, copies of cancelled checks
    • Birth certificates of children and/or siblings born in the U.S. for the stated period
    • Affidavits from relatives, friends, teachers, and churches attesting to your presence
    • Photographs placing you in the U.S. since the age of 16 & since 2007

STEP 5: Gather Your Fees or Request a Fee Exemption

Fees: The fees for DACA are $85 biometrics fee + $380 work authorization document fee = $465 total.

Fee Exemption (must be completed and approved before you file): You cannot apply for a fee waiver, but there are some very limited exemptions. There are fee exemptions for those under 18, homeless, in foster care, lacking parental support, with income less than 150% of federal poverty guidelines, who cannot care for themselves because of chronic disability, or who have accumulated very serious medical-related debt. There will be a separate fee exemption form, which must be approved before a DACA request can be filed without a fee. It is hard to know how long it will take to review fee exemption requests. Check USCIS for more information about these exemptions, and how to apply.

Other Financial Assistance: If you need help paying the application fees, you can apply for money from the Fund for DREAMers.

STEP 6: Attend an Application Processing Event to Get Help Finalizing Your Application

Go to We Own the Dream to find an application processing event in your area:

STEP 7: Complete Application Forms

Individuals *must* file the following forms:

  • Form I-821D - Application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • Form I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Form I-765WS - Employment Authorization Worksheet

This is recommended, but not mandatory:

  • Form G-1145 - E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (you’ll want to paperclip this to the front of the Form I-821D)

STEP 8: Include Payment (Check or Money Order)

In the application package you mail to USCIS, you’ll need to include two separate checks *or* money orders: one the $85 biometrics fee, and one $380 work authorization fee. If you plan to use personal checks, be sure there’s enough money in your account. If either check bounces, your application will be rejected. Checks must be made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security."

STEP 9: Confirm You Have the Correct USCIS Address

The address to mail your application will depend on your U.S. state of residence (i.e. California, Illinois, New York, Texas, etc.). On the USCIS website, check the section “Filing Addresses for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” to find the correct mailing address on the Form I-821D.

NOTE: USCIS will not accept any online, email, or faxed applications.

STEP 10: Copy Your Entire DACA Application Before You Send It

Make a photocopy or scan of your entire application, including the checks or money orders.You may need to refer to your application again in the future (or show it to an advocate or attorney). This is especially important if the Dream Act passes, or if you become eligible to file for permanent status; you will want a record of everything you stated in your DACA application.

STEP 11: Mail Your DACA Application

When you mail your application, we highly recommend that you select a delivery option that allows you to track your package. You will want to have proof the document was sent AND be able to see when it arrives.

STEP 12: Sign Up for E-Notification or Manually Track Your Paper Receipt Number Online

E-Notification Confirmation: If you fill out the Form G-1145, you’ll receive an e-Notification when your forms have been accepted (you’ll want to paperclip this form to the front of the Form I-821D)

Paper Receipt Confirmation: Within 1-4 weeks of sending your DACA application, you should receive a paper receipt in the mail. We hope that all applicants will be able to track the online progress of their individual DACA receipts here and also track the general progress of all DACA applications’ processing times nationwide here.

STEP 13: Attend a Biometrics Appointment

Within four (4) months of getting your DACA receipt, you should get an appointment notice to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) to have your biometrics taken. Make sure to bring a valid (unexpired) government-issued photo ID (i.e. your passport) to your appointment.

STEP 14: Look Out for a Possible “Request for Further Evidence” (RFE)

Applying for DACA doesn’t require an individual interview, so you shouldn’t need to go to your local USCIS office for an interview. However, if anything is missing from your application, or if the adjudicating USCIS officer has questions, you may be mailed a “Request for Evidence” (RFE). You will need to respond to this RFE with additional proof by the deadline given (around 12 weeks). If you ignore this request, your case will be automatically denied.

STEP 15: Await Notification of DACA Approval

At this time, we don’t know how long DACA cases will take to process. Other USCIS humanitarian applications take around 8-12 months for a final decision (or longer). Once you receive notification that DACA has been approved, you will receive a work authorization card valid for 2 years.

STEP 16: Obtain Local and State Benefits

Once you’ve received your work authorization card, you can apply for various local and state benefits. All DACA recipients will be eligible for a Social Security Number. In some states, you will be able to apply for an identification card or driver's license.

In California, you will be able to apply for an identification card or driver’s license. However, at this time, the State of California has not announced whether DACA recipients will be eligible for any additional public benefits.

STEP 17: Investigate Long-Term Immigration Remedies

Remember that DACA is only a temporary, discretionary program that could be terminated or changed at any time. While you’re waiting for approval of your DACA case (or even if your case has already been adjudicated), we encourage you to investigate if you have a longer-term immigration remedy.

You can review our guide (created with Curran & Berger LLP) Beyond Deferred Action: Long-Term Immigration Remedies Every DREAMer Should Know About.

For students living in the California Bay Area(that’s Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties), you can use E4FC’s free, anonymous, and online Case Analysis Service.

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hi everybody. i had a few question while reading this. hope someone can answer.

step4:

1.is there a certain size i need for the passport photos?

2.do i need a passport?

3.the translated version of my birthcertificate, can i translate it myself or how does that work?

4.copy of every criminal report: i was arrested once for curfew and the only thing i have left is the ticket, is this enough?

Proof of entry prior to age 16, continuous residence in U.S. since June 15, 2007, and on June 15, 2012

5. i have a lot of bank statements. one for each month from around october 07 to now. will bank statements alone be enough?

thanks in advanced.

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Below are most of my notes from the stakeholder's meeting with USCIS about DACA yesterday:

Notes from USCIS Stakeholder meeting on November 19, 2012

Last Friday the USCIS.gov/childhood arrivals wensite was updated. Later today there will be new updates to the filing tips, and new FAQs as well as translations into new languages.

As of mid November almost 300,000 applications have been received. On September 12th the Service began deciding these cases. So far 50,000 cases have been decided. Cases must have biometrics completed before they can be reviewed. So far all cases are within the four to six month goal. The Service will provide regular updates about processing times and numbers.

Will misdemeanor charges of No license affect eligibility? Traffic violations will not be considered as non-significant misdemeanors regardless of how the state classifies them. However many violations will cause the case to be evaluated under the totality of the circumstances to determine if the applicant poses a threat to safetly.

Why are there differences in processing times? Generally cases are “first in, first in right” however there are “immaterial deviations” in that due to processing times at different service centers and adjudicators.

Is a conviction for breath test refusal a significant misdemeanor? Unknown

If a person is 14 years old now, can they apply later? Yes.

How many denials are there so far? Unknown. Because an RFE allows 84 days to respond, and a Notice of Intent to Deny allows 30 days to rebut, there is insufficient data on denials so far.

If a person is denied can they re-apply? Yes.

Can a person apply if they satisfy all but one requirement? No

What if a person made a false claim to citizenship? Those cases are very fact-specific. They are evaluated on a case by case basis.

Can a person apply if they have a final order of deportation? Yes

Can a person use employment records even if they show a false SS#? Yes

Can a GED program in Spanish qualify an applicant? Yes

If an applicant has an order of deportation and receives DACA, can they reopen their deportation based on the grant of DACA? Yes.

If a DWI has been expunged, can an applicant qualify? Case will be reviewed under the totality of the circumstances.

Note- Cases are reviewed based on the convictions, not the original offenses. In other words a DWI reduced to “wet reckless” does not necessarily disqualify one for DACA. However the Service is not precluded from looking at the original charge because DACA is discretionary.

(This summary is courtesy of the Immigration Benefits for Dream Youth Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/katychavezdreamers )

The “in school” requirement does not discriminate based on whether the program is faith-based or not.

Advance Parole will be granted on a humanitarian basis, on a case by case basis.

Is there news about the Provisional Waiver Program? Expect it to be available THIS CALENDAR YEAR.

For updates about news about the Provisional Waiver program, check my Provisional Waiver page, I-601a Provisional Waiver Attorney

I will post more news about DACA soon!

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hi everybody. i had a few question while reading this. hope someone can answer.

step4:

1.is there a certain size i need for the passport photos?

2.do i need a passport?

3.the translated version of my birthcertificate, can i translate it myself or how does that work?

4.copy of every criminal report: i was arrested once for curfew and the only thing i have left is the ticket, is this enough?

Proof of entry prior to age 16, continuous residence in U.S. since June 15, 2007, and on June 15, 2012

5. i have a lot of bank statements. one for each month from around october 07 to now. will bank statements alone be enough?

thanks in advanced.

1.) the passport photo size is 2"x2". if you go to walgreens or rite-aid, you can have them done there.

2.) in order to apply, you do not need a passport. your translated birth certificate will be fine. however, you will need a government issued ID from your country for your biometrics appt.

3.) i have heard of people translating their own BCs. exactly how they do it, i'm not sure. i had mine done online for around $35.

4.) you wont need to provide a copy of your ticket for breaking curfew. it might show up when USCIS runs your fingerprints. it's really minor, so yo should be fine when you apply.

5.) you should send in as much paperwork as you have. anything that has your name and address on it will due. with the bank statements, i sent in just the first page that has my name and address and account info. do you have anything before october 2007? school records? medical records? if you dont, there could be the possibility of you either getting a RFE or denied. a RFE will give you the chance to send in more evidence but sending in as much evidence as you can when you first apply will reduce the chance of you getting a RFE.

hope that answers all your question. :) good luck

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