What is DACA Renewal?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal requires Form I-821D be filled out and submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when applying for DACA the first time or applying for DACA renewal. It generally takes a total of 120 days to receive a response from the USCIS regarding your application; however, if you have not received a response by day 105, you can follow up with USCIS to see where your application is in the process. If they fail to make a determination by the deadline, USCIS will generally provide a temporary extension of your DACA so long as you are not at fault.

Steps for DACA Renewal Process

Step 1. Figure out when to submit it.

First, you’ll want to identify when you should submit your renewal application. You will receive a notice from the USCIS 100 days before your expiration date. Therefore, if you haven’t yet applied for renewal before then, you’ll want to get the process started immediately once you receive a reminder notice from the USCIS. Remember that everyone has a different deadline of when to submit it based on their unique DACA expiration date. You’ll want to ensure that you meet the deadline so not to fall out of status. You can apply for a Deferred DACA renewal between 4-5 months before the DACA expires.

Step 2. Get the money.

The Deferred DACA renewal fee is $495. However, if you choose to hire an attorney, you’ll also be responsible for additional legal fees. Other fees include a fee of $380 for Form I-765 (Employment Authorization) and a fee of $85 for fingerprinting.

However, keep in mind that exceptions apply to such fees, depending on the applicant’s circumstances. In order to apply for a fee exemption or waiver, you must submit a letter to the USCIS proving that you are under the age of 18, have an income of less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level, and are either in the foster care system or lacking parental/familial support. In addition, if you are under 18 and homeless, you will also be qualified for a fee waiver. Additional qualifications can prove successful, including if you are under 18 and have incurred over $10,000 in debt within a 12 month period as a result of unreimbursed medical expenses either for yourself or an immediate family members, and your income is 150% below the U.S. poverty level, as stated above.

Step 3. Create your folder.

You’ll need to create a folder for easy access to the required documents that you will need to provide to the USCIS. This includes a copy of your work permit, social security card, the initial DACA application, 2 passport photographs, a list of previous addresses for the past two years, a change of address form with the USCIS, copies of IDs, a copy of your estimated annual income, expenses, and assets, Form I-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765W Worksheet, and G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance).

Step 4. Get the paperwork together.

Figure out if you are required to submit additional evidence, documents, or information. If you fall into one of the following four categories, you will be required to submit additional evidence with your DACA renewal application:

  1. If you have an open case in immigration court
  2. If you got into any trouble since you got DACA
  3. If you left the U.S. after you received DACA without prior permission from the government
  4. If you were granted DACA by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Any documents pertaining to the above categories will need to be gathered and stored in your DACA folder. This can include any documentation issued by an immigration judge, copies of the removal order, any documents received from ICE, citations, criminal records, etc.

Be mindful that a criminal record could in fact affect your DACA renewal eligibility. But be sure to mitigate any and all risk associated with your criminal record, such as reduced charges, recommendations from the arresting officer that you are of good moral character, and any other documents that can help your case. Should you fall into this category, it would be wise to hire a qualified attorney to assist you during this time. You’ll want to ensure that the renewal is successful.

Step 5. Determine if you need legal assistance.

As previously noted, depending on your particular circumstances, you may wish to hire a lawyer or other legal representative who can help you apply for renewal. While the process may be simple and straightforward to some, it can be rather complex and difficult for others depending on your situation. Before hiring someone to help, think about how the associated costs. For example, hiring an attorney may cost more than seeking the help of a non-profit organization since such organizations have attorneys who help those in need for little or no cost.

Also, you need not utilize the same attorney who drafted your first DACA application; however if you were happy with the costs and work that he or she did for you, then you can certainly reach out again for additional help.

You can choose to file the renewal form on your own. If you choose to go at it alone, you’ll need to ensure that the application is accurate and detailed. You cannot leave out any pertinent information. Any errors, inconsistencies, or omissions can create delays in your DACA renewal approval.

When filing for renewal of DACA, you’ll need to fill out the same three forms you did the first time, which include Form I-821D, Form I-765, and Form I-765W Worksheet. You can find the forms on the USCIS website. Be sure to follow the instructions very carefully when you are filling out such forms. Any document that is not written in English must be translated to English before being submitted to USCIS.  Keep a copy of all documents, including the check you wrote for the fee.

Some things that affect the outcome of your renewal application for DACA include the following:

  • Inconsistencies in answers or evidence
  • Travel issues that need additional clarification
  • Incomplete answers
  • No-shows for the scheduled fingerprinting

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Must I be attending college in order to apply for renewal of DACA?

You don’t have to be a college student in order to qualify for DACA renewal. Unlike DACA, the federal DREAM Act does in fact require either college enrollment or active military status.

  • Do I need to have a job to apply for renewal?

To be qualified for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal, you don’t have to be employed, and you don’t have to provide confirmation of employment as part of the application for renewal.

  • What if I have DACA but I am currently applying for green card status or U.S. citizenship? Do I still need to apply for DACA renewal?

You could apply for DACA renewal even if you are currently applying for any other type of immigration relief. You should probably apply for both to be safe in the event that one of the applications is denied or even delayed. If you are choosing to go down more than one route for immigration relief, it would be a good idea to speak to an immigration attorney or legal representative who can help you draft the necessary paperwork for each type of relief you apply for.

  • I have applied for DACA renewal, but I haven’t yet heard from USCIS. Why is it taking this long?

If you fail to attend your fingerprinting appointment, this will ultimately delay the process. However, other issues may arise that could also delay the process, including criminal convictions, travel issues, and other related issues. If your DACA and Employment Authorization Document terminate while USCIS is processing your application for renewal, you’ll probably lose your DACA and authorization of employment status until your renewal is complete. However, if it expires at the fault of the USCIS and is no fault of your own, then they will generally provide a temporary extension of your DACA and employment authorization.

  • My DACA renewal was denied. What do I do now? Will I be placed in removal proceedings?

Generally, USCIS won’t state your case to ICE unless it involves fraud, a criminal offense, or a danger to national or public safety.

  • Will I have to return my Employment Authorization Document?

If you haven’t received a written notification, phone call, or visit from USCIS, then you will not be required to return it. Only those three-year Employment Authorization Documents that were issued after February 16, 2015 need to be returned.

If you need help filing a DACA renewal, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.