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What You Need to Know About Renewing Your DACA

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officially announced the process for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to renew their status. If you have DACA, here are the things you need to know for your renewal:

(1) The form is still I-821D, but it is a NEW version and there is NO grace period between the old form and the new one. This means that any forms sent in beginning today (June 5, 2014) must be on the updated form or else they will be rejected as improperly filed.

(2) It is suggested that you file 120 days before your status expires. This is not a requirement, however, if you do not give USCIS enough time to grant the renewal before your current DACA expires, you may experience a gap where technically you have no proof of lawful status or employment authorization because your DACA is expired and your have not yet been granted a renewal. Please note, if you file more than 150 before your status expires, USCIS may reject your renewal with instructions to resubmit closer to the expiration date.

(3) If for some reason you do not file before your DACA expires, all hope is not lost. You have one year to renew your DACA after is has expired. If you fail to file renewal within one year from the expiration, you have start all over again.

(4) You are eligible to renew your DACA as long as you still meet the initial requirements AND: (a) you didn't leave the US on or after August 15, 2012 without advanced parole (i.e. advance permission from immigration to depart the country); (b) you have continuously resided in the US since you were granted DACA; and (c) you have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more misdemeanors, and you do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. You do NOT have to submit any supporting documentation with your renewal unless you have new documents regarding immigration court proceedings or criminal history that you did not previously submit with your initial DACA application. If you have any question at all regarding your eligibility to renew your DACA status, please seek out competent representation or legal counsel.

DACA was the beginning of what we all believed would be comprehensive immigration reform and while that has not yet happened, it is encouraging to know that according to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, more than 560,000 people have received DACA since April of 2014. That means valid identification and the ability to work and attend school without the fear of removal, for all of those applicants. With this renewal process, it is also heartening to see that at least Congress can continue to support the young people who were brought here illegally by their parents/family members seeking a better life, and who had no say in the immigration consequences of that decision.

As always, immigration law is difficult to navigate and every case is unique. This blog is meant to provide general information, and cannot address every avenue of relief that may be available. Additionally, immigration law is always changing and that can change options available to you. You should always consult with an immigration lawyer before filing for anything.