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DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Current estimates put the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States at around 12 million. As many as two million of those immigrants are thought to be teenagers or young adults who were brought into the country when they were very young. Since their arrival, many have gone on to complete their secondary education and enroll in college or join the military despite their status as an undocumented immigrant. As part of the push for immigration reform, President Obama signed into law the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in 2012 which provides a temporary bar from removal for many of these young adults.

Who Qualifies for DACA?

An applicant must have been physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and meet the following criteria as of June 15, 2012 (the day the DACA memo was signed):

  • Be under the age of 31;
  • Entered the United States before age 16;
  • Continuously present in the United States from June 15, 2007 until June 15, 2012
  • Entered the U.S. without inspection of lawful immigration status expired;
  • Currently enrolled in high school, be a graduate of high school, received a GED, or have an honorable discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard or armed forces; AND
  • Not have a felony conviction, a significant misdemeanor, or more than three misdemeanors and not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

What Benefits Come with DACA Approval?

"Deferred status" means that the individual cannot be removed, or deported, from the country. In addition, it allows the immigrant to apply for a Social Security number and secure work authorization. Essentially, it acts as a stop gap to prevent deportation; however, it does not provide a path to either permanent residency or citizenship.

Can I Become a Citizen if Approved for the DACA Program?

At the moment, the DACA program does not grant permanent residency or citizenship. If approved, an applicant's deferred status is good for two years with the possibility of renewal upon expiration. In the meantime, an immigrant should work closely with an immigration attorney to find other possible pathways to permanent residency and eventually citizenship.

How Can I Apply to the DACA Program?

It is critical for an applicant to understand that there are risks involved in applying for the DACA program. If you apply and are not approved, you could be placed in removal proceedings. For this reason, you should consult with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania immigration attorney Akanksha Kalra today by calling 215.368.8600to find out if the DACA program is your best option.

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