Jesse J. Bañuelos, a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney
NOW THAT DACA IS ENDING, WHAT CAN BE DONE?
INITIAL AND RENEWAL APPLICATIONS
On Sept. 5, 2017, President Trump directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to phase out and eventually end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) over two and one half years. This means that, as of Sept. 5, 2017:
USCIS will continue to process all pending INITIAL applications ACCEPTED as of Sept. 5, 2017;
USCIS will reject all other new INITIAL applications;
USCIS will continue to process all pending RENEWAL applications that have already been filed
USCIS will continue to accept and process RENEWAL applications until Oct. 5, 2017 from applicants whose DACA expires between Sept. 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018. DACA recipients whose DACA has already expired will no longer be eligible to renew;
USCIS will reject all INITIAL and RENEWAL applications received after Oct. 5, 2017.
IMPORTANT: Individuals with current DACA status will continue to hold that status until it expires. This means that current DACA recipients will maintain their protection from deportation and work permit until their current expiration date. USCIS will not refer DACA recipients and applicants to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation unless they meet USCIS’ Notice to Appear guidance or post a risk to national security or public safety.
Applicants with currently pending applications should attend biometrics appointments and respond to any requests for additional evidence they receive from USCIS.
If you are eligible to renew under the above guidelines, you should do so immediately and file with enough time for your application to be delivered to, and to be accepted, by USCIS no later than Oct. 5, 2017. Renewal applications must be accepted (and not just postmarked) by USCIS by Oct. 5, 2017 to ensure that your application is processed in a timely fashion.
II. WORK PERMITS
Employment Authorization Documents (EADs), also known as work permits, for current DACA recipients remain valid until they expire or the government terminates your DACA.
• If you currently have an unexpired work permit under DACA, you are allowed to keep your work permit and have the right to work legally until your work permit’s expiration date.
• You have no obligation to inform your employer that DACA has ended. Your employer does not have the right to ask you whether you are a DACA recipient or how you got your work permit.
• Even though DACA is winding down, your employer does not have the right to fire you, put you on leave, or change your work status until after your work permit has expired. If your expiration date is nearing, your employer may ask you for an updated work permit but cannot take any action against you until after it expired.
• You still have the right to apply for a new job, or to change jobs until your work permit expires.
III. SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS (SSNs)
Your SSN is a valid for life, even after your work permit and DACA expire.
• If you have not done so already, you might want to consider applying for an SSN while your DACA and work permit are still valid.
IV. DRIVER’S LICENSES AND OTHER IDENTIFICATION CARDS
Eligibility and requirements for a driver’s license depend on the state in which you live. If you have not already done so, you can still apply for a driver’s license or state identification card if your DACA is still valid, if your DACA makes you eligible for a driver’s license or state-issued identification card in your state.
V. TRAVEL WITH ADVANCE PAROLE
The September 5th announcement also made important changes to DACA recipients’ ability to travel outside the U.S., also known as advance parole. Specifically:
• USCIS will reject all new applications for advance parole.
• USCIS will administratively close all pending applications for advance parole and refund the filing fee.
• USCIS states that previously approved advance parole documents will remain valid and that individuals will retain the ability to exit and to return to the U.S. within the dates provided in the travel document. Individuals with valid advance parole documents, however, should consult with an experienced immigration service provider before leaving the U.S.
• USCIS states that DACA recipients who currently outside the U.S. and who are traveling with a valid advance parole document should be able to return to the U.S. as long as they do so before their advance parole expires.
• Even though USCIS states that advance parole will remain valid, U.S. Customs and Border Protection [CBP] retains the discretion to deny you re-entry into the U.S.
• If you travel on advance parole or are currently abroad, make sure to return to the U.S before the deadline.