Jesse J. Bañuelos, a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney
NOW THAT DACA IS ENDING, WHAT CAN I DO?
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; and
• 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 Sept. 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 has said 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 has said 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 has said 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.
VI. Other Immigration Options
Many DACA recipients may be eligible for another immigration option to get a work permit or even a green card.
• Talk to an immigration services provider to understand your legal options and to see if you might be eligible for another immigration benefit.
VII. Criminal Issues
Any criminal arrest, charge, or conviction can put you at risk with immigration authorities.
• Avoid contact with law enforcement that may result in a criminal arrest. If you end up being arrested, make sure to consult an expert immigration attorney.
• If you have a criminal conviction, see an attorney to find out if it can be changed to lessen the impact on a future immigration case you may have.
VIII. Know Your Rights
All individuals– both documented and undocumented–have rights in this country. If you would like to know what your rights are in case you are detained by ICE agents, or if ICE agents come to your home, please click what are my rights?
RECENT CHANGES IN THE LAW REGARDING THE DACA PROGRAM
Due to federal court orders that were issued on Jan. 9, 2018 and on Feb. 13, 2018, the USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA.
• If you previously received DACA status and it expired on or after Sept. 5, 2016, you may still file a request for DACA status, and you would file it as a renewal request;
• If you previously received DACA status and it expired before Sept. 5, 2016, or your most recent DACA status grant was previously terminated, you cannot request DACA status 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), but you could file a new initial DACA status petition; and
• USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Furthermore, USCIS will no longer accept, nor approve, any more advance parole requests from any DACA status recipient.
This will be the law regarding DACA for the foreseeable future, until the federal courts decide when and how President Trump can end the DACA program.