DACA Renewal Fees Guide

Updated on October 31, 2023
At a Glance: The cost of renewing DACA is $495, which covers the filing fee for Form I-765. However, fee exemptions are possible in certain circumstances. There are three forms to submit for DACA renewal: I-765 worksheet, I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Delays may occur in processing, especially due to USPS and the COVID-19 pandemic. Loans specifically for DACA recipients are available, and it’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney for complex cases.

Editors Note: In a significant legal development on September 13, 2023, District Court Judge Hanen decreed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to be unlawful. However, it’s important for our readers to understand the immediate implications of this ruling:

  1. Those wishing to renew their DACA status can still do so for the time being.
  2. New, first-time filings for DACA will not be entertained.
  3. Advance parole remains accessible for those who are current DACA recipients.

We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and provide timely updates.

Being a DACA recipient is very convenient for a lot of reasons, but one downside for many is the fact that the status expires after a while. So, in order to maintain the DACA status, a recipient will have to renew it. More often than not, the biggest problem people have with the renewal is the DACA renewal fee. How much does it cost to renew your DACA, though?

How Much Does DACA Renewal Cost?

Renewing your DACA will cost $495, and this is because you need to file Form I-765. Without paying this fee, you won’t be able to get a renewal.

DACA Renewal Fee Breakdown

The renewal fee has been an obstacle for many people under the DACA program. On top of the paperwork that they need to prepare, DACA recipients also have to consider the renewal fee.

Renewal is necessary once every two years, and it can be quite overwhelming for someone’s budget. It doesn’t take long for the preparation costs and fees to add up.

There are three different forms that are part of the DACA renewal package. When someone wants to renew their DACA, they will have to submit all of them. These forms include the I-765 worksheet, I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Form I-765 has to be submitted no matter if the applicant will work or not. Bear in mind that this form will generate photo identification as well. It is also the only form that has a fee, respectively $465.

DACA Fee Exemption

Although you must pay a fee when renewing your DACA, it is also possible to get a fee exemption. Of course, this is only possible in certain circumstances. To get an exemption, you will have to submit a letter together with some documents that prove that you meet specific conditions. These are the conditions:

  • You suffer from a very serious chronic disability and because of that, you cannot take care of yourself properly, and you have an income lower than 150% of the poverty level in the United States.
  • You are younger than 18, in foster care, homeless, or just below 18 years old, and you do not benefit from any type of parental care or familial support, while your income is lower than 150% of the poverty level of the U.S.
  • At the time of making the request, you gathered $10,000 or more in debt during the last 12 months. This was all the result of unreimbursed medical expenses either for yourself or for an immediate relative. At the same time, you must have an income lower than 150% of the poverty level in the United States.

If you meet one of these requirements and you qualify for an exemption because of that, you have to act quickly. Your DACA fee exemption request has to be filed before filing a request for consideration of deferred action.

Keep in mind that if you submit Forms I-765, I-765W, and I-821D to any USCIS Lockbox facility with no fee and you do not have your fee exemption request approved, the application will be rejected. Then, it will get sent back to you.

Also, you should keep in mind that there may be some processing delays when submitting your DACA renewal. Usually, delays may occur, especially with USPS. This is all due to certain possible changes but also due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’ve filed your DACA renewal request already and you are noticing some delays, you will have to take action. You must check your case status online by going to the USCIS website and entering the receipt number.

Then, you can submit an “outside normal processing time” inquiry if the delay is taking too long. The inquiry can be submitted by contacting the National Customer Service Center.

After doing both of these things, you can contact the USCIS Ombudsman’s office. There, you can file what is known as the Case Assistance Form DHS-7001. The form will ask you to specify how the delay in the process is affecting you. After you complete and submit the form, you will get an Ombudsman-specific case number.

If you didn’t get any response from either USCIS or the USCIS Ombudsman, you will have to get in touch with the congressional representative. Afterward, you must offer some information on your case, and explain the urgency of the case.

If you did everything mentioned here yet you have no update or received no information, you may have to contact a legal service provider. You can find them in your area.

Loans for DACA Recipients

If you cannot get a fee exemption, you may become discouraged, especially if you don’t have the money to pay for your renewal. The last thing you want is to be at risk of deportation because you cannot pay the renewal fee. Well, thankfully, all hope is not lost, because you can still do something to get the money necessary for the fee.

There is such a thing as a DREAMer loan. These loans are meant to help DACA program applicants. Multiple organizations and credit unions decided to take action to provide DACA recipients with loans when they need them. Usually, the loans will offer the $495 personal loan that people can use to submit with the deferred action application.

The coolest thing about it is that applicants do not necessarily need to have a credit history. All they need is to bring valid ID forms. Apart from that, they also need to bring evidence of the physical address and a valid individual taxpayer identification number. You can look for a program close to where you live if you are interested in a loan. All you have to do is go to Google and search “dreamer loan”. You will soon be able to see your options.

How to Save Money on DACA Renewal

Even though you will have to pay a fee to prepare for your DACA, you may be able to save some money in the process. If your case is an easy one, all you have to do is file the DACA application by yourself. A lot of people did this and were successful.

But if you have a more complicated case and you have an arrest record, an immigration violation, or anything of the sort, you shouldn’t do things by yourself. Ideally, you should hire an immigration attorney before starting the DACA filing process. It will help go through this entire procedure.

Read More

The Bottom Line

Paying the DACA renewal fee might be a huge downside for those on a budget who cannot afford to pay for it. If you’re a more special case, you may be able to get an exemption, but you will have to prove you meet the requirements for the exemption. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always get a dreamer loan, which will help you cover the renewal fee. Unless you get an exemption, make sure you find a way to pay the renewal fee. Otherwise, you risk losing your DACA benefits, which will put you at risk of having illegal status.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.