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How to Apply for DACA: A Step-by-Step Guide

Updated on April 10, 2024

If you are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), you may be wondering how to go about applying for the program. This guide will walk you through the steps necessary to submit your DACA application.

Steps to Apply for DACA

Below, we walk you through the steps to apply for DACA status in the U.S. Here’s a quick overview before we dive in:

Image about the steps to apply for DACA status in the U.S.:Gather Required Documents.Complete Required Forms.Pay Application Fee ($495).Submit Application to USCIS.Attend Biometrics Appointment.Wait for Decision (Several Months).Receive Approval Notice / EAD Card.

Step 1: Gather The Required Documents

Before beginning your application, make sure you have all the necessary documents:

  • Proof of identity (e.g., passport, birth certificate, or national identity document)
  • Proof of arrival in the United States before age 16 (e.g., school records, medical records, or immigration documents)
  • Proof of continuous residence in the United States since June 15, 2007 (e.g., school records, employment records, or utility bills)
  • Proof of education or military service (e.g., high school diploma, GED certificate, or military discharge papers)
  • Proof of criminal history or lack thereof (e.g., court records or police reports)

Step 2: Complete The Required Forms

To apply for DACA, you will need to fill out the following forms:

Make sure to read the instructions carefully and provide accurate information on all forms.

Step 3: Pay The Application Fee

The current application fee for DACA is $495, which includes $410 for the employment authorization application and $85 for biometrics (fingerprints and photo). You can pay by money order (best option), personal check, or cashier’s check, made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

For applications facing extreme financial hardship, it is possible to be granted an fee exemption.

Step 4: Submit Your Application

Mail your completed forms, supporting documents, and application fee to the appropriate USCIS lockbox facility. The mailing address depends on your state of residence and can be found on the USCIS website or by reading our guide Where to File Your Form I-765.

Step 5: Attend Your Biometrics Appointment

After USCIS receives your application, they will send you a notice to attend a biometrics appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). During this appointment, USCIS will take your fingerprints, photograph, and signature.

Step 6: Wait For A Decision

After your biometrics appointment, USCIS will review your application. The processing time for DACA applications varies, but you can expect to receive a decision within several months. If your application is approved, you will receive an approval notice and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

DACA Processing Times

As of 2024, the typical processing time for initial DACA applications and renewals is between 6 to 12 months. However, it’s important to note that these are estimated timeframes and not guaranteed.

To get a more accurate estimate of your DACA application processing time, you can:

  1. Check the USCIS Processing Times webpage and select “Form I-821D” for initial applications or “Form I-765” for renewals.
  2. Enter your receipt number on the USCIS Case Status Online page to see updates on your specific case.

It’s recommended to submit your DACA renewal application 120 to 150 days before your current DACA expiration date to allow sufficient time for processing and to avoid any gaps in your status or work authorization.

How to Check Your DACA Status Online

As a DACA applicant or recipient, it’s essential to stay informed about the status of your application or renewal. Fortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides an online tool that allows you to easily check your DACA status from the comfort of your own home.

Checking Your DACA Status Online

To check your DACA status online, follow these simple steps:

  1. Visit the USCIS Case Status Online page.
  2. Enter your 13-digit receipt number, which can be found on the receipt notice you received after filing your DACA application or renewal.
  3. Click on the “Check Status” button.
  4. Review the information provided about your case status, which may include updates on your application’s progress, such as “Request Received,” “Request Approved,” or “Request Denied.”

Understanding Your DACA Case Status

When checking your DACA status online, you may encounter various case statuses. Some common statuses include:

  1. Acceptance: USCIS has received your application and is reviewing it for completeness.
  2. Initial Review: Your application is being reviewed to determine if additional evidence or information is needed.
  3. Request for Additional Evidence: USCIS requires more information or documentation to process your application.
  4. Decision: USCIS has made a decision on your application, which may be an approval or denial.
  5. Card/Document Production: If your application is approved, USCIS is producing your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and preparing to mail it to you.

If you have difficulty understanding your case status or need more information, contact USCIS directly or consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Final Thoughts

Remember, DACA is a temporary program and does not provide a pathway to permanent legal status or citizenship. It is essential to stay informed about any changes to the program and to renew your DACA status before it expires.

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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.

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