Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Starting August 15, 2012, the Obama Administration will allow certain undocumented immigrant youth who meet strict requirements to apply for deferred action, essentially placing their immigration cases on the back burner for purposes of immigration enforcement. This is not a new law and could be reversed if/when a new administration comes into office.


Under this new policy, immigrant youth who are at least 15 years old and meet the requirements will be eligible for a favorable grant of prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis. Qualified youth who meet the requirements, including those in immigration proceedings and those with a removal order, will be able to file for deferred action with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Youth who are currently in immigration detention cannot apply for deferred action and should contact Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) Public Advocate at (888) 351-4042 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be released before applying with USCIS. Eligible individuals will be able to apply for work authorization with USCIS. Work authorization will allow individuals to obtain a Social Security Number, which will allow them to obtain a MA Driver's License.

A grant of deferred action will be effective for two years and will be renewable. Individuals who received a grant and wish to renew will have to reapply both for deferred action and for work authorization.


Immigrants eligible for prosecutorial discretion are those who:

1) entered the United States before their 16th birthday;

2) had continually resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;

3) are currently in school, have graduated from high school, has obtained a GED, or has been honorably discharged from the US Armed Forces;

4) has not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and

5) was under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012; and

6) was out of status on June 15, 2012.

Immigration general considers a "felony" to be any crime for which the sentence can be over one year, no matter what the individual was actually sentenced to. As with all immigration applications, all applicants will be subject to an FBI background check to verify their criminal history.

How do I request deferred action?

Individuals requesting deferred action must file three forms with USCIS: I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and the I-765 Worksheet. All forms can be obtained for free from USCIS's website: Applications from MA residents should be sent to USCIS's Chicago Lockbox:

PO Box 5757
Chicago, IL 60680-5757


Via Courier
Attn: DACA
131 S. Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Is there a fee for the application?

The total fee for a deferred action request is $465 ($380 for the application for Employment Authorization and $85 for biometrics).

Are fee waivers available?

No, fee waivers are not available for DACA requests. However, fee exemptions are available in three limited cases:

1. (a) under 18 years old, (b) homeless, in foster care or otherwise lacking any parental or other familial support, and (c) your income is less than 150% of FPL;

2. (a) cannot care for yourself because you suffer from a serious, chronic disability and (b) your income is less than 150% of FPL; or

3. (a) have accumulated $25,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as a result of unreimbursed medical expenses for yourself or an immediate family members and (b) your income is less than 150% of FPL.

A request for a fee exemption must be filed and favorably adjudicated before you file a request for consideration of DACA without a fee. Individuals seeking a fee exemption should send a signed request letter along with supporting documentation to USCIS:

Attn: DACA Fee Exemption Request
PO Box 75036
Washington, DC 20013

If the request for a fee exemption is approval, the individual should attach a copy of the approval letter to the front of the DACA request package.

What is a significant misdemeanor?

USCIS had defined a significant misdemeanor as any misdemeanor conviction for:

• Domestic Violence;

• Sexual Abuse or Exploitation;

• Burglary;

• Unlawful Possession or Use of a Firearm;

• Drug Distribution or Trafficking;

• Driving Under the Influence; or

• Any other misdemeanor for which the individual was sentence to over 90 days in custody.

Please be aware that immigration law considers a Continuance Without a Finding as a conviction!

Is there a deadline for filing requests?

No, there is no deadline for filing a request. However, because this is an administrative policy rather than a law, it could change quickly with changed circumstances or a new administration.

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