USCIS Resumes Processing of DACA Renewal Applications Following Federal Court Order

Due to a federal court order, on January 13, 2018 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in the guidance issued by USCIS, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on September 5, 2017.  Read more about the rescission here.

Who may currently file for DACA?

Individuals who were previously granted DACA may file applications to request a renewal of deferred action and work authorization. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. USCIS will not accept or approve applications for advance parole (international travel authorization) from DACA recipients. DACA renewal requests will be adjudicated under the guidelines set forth in the June 15, 2012 DACA memo (PDF).

Can I file for a renewal if my DACA has expired?

If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired on or after September 5, 2016, you may still file your DACA request as a renewal request. If you previously received DACA and your DACA expired before September 5, 2016, or your DACA was previously terminated at any time, USCIS has currently taken the position that you cannot request DACA as a renewal (because renewal requests typically must be submitted within one year of the expiration date of your last period of deferred action approved under DACA). Under the USCIS guidance, it may be possible for individuals to file for initial DACA, if their previously granted DACA expired prior to September 5, 2016 or was terminated at any time.

Can I file now if my current DACA expires more than 150 days from now?

It is unclear if USCIS will process DACA applications submitted by individuals whose DACA expires more than 150 days after they submit their application. Early in the DACA program, USCIS had stated that it would reject DACA renewal applications from such individuals. Later, USCIS encouraged individuals to file their renewal application during the 120 to 150-day window before expiration, to provide enough time for processing and to avoid a lapse in their DACA, but it did not reject renewal applications from those who submitted them more than 150 days before their DACA expired. It is unclear if USCIS will prioritize cases for people whose DACA has less than 150 days left before expiration. If individuals who have more than 150 days of DACA left before it expires choose to apply now, they should take into account the possibility that their application may be either rejected or accepted but deprioritized.

Can USCIS deny or terminate my DACA?

The Trump administration is expected to appeal the federal court order all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States and it is unclear if DACA will ultimately be allowed to terminate as announced on September 5, 2017. Individuals should consider filing for DACA renewals, if eligible to file under the current rules. However, individuals who choose to file for a DACA renewal pursuant to the federal court order should be aware that the rules can quickly change. If the federal court order is reversed and the DACA program is terminated, USCIS could deny pending DACA renewals filed pursuant to the federal court order without refunding the fee.

Further, deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer a removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion. DACA does not confer legal status upon an individual and may be terminated at any time, with or without a Notice of Intent to Terminate, at DHS’s discretion.

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