Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a federal program granting temporary protection from deportation, employment authorization, a social security number, and, for some, access to education and health benefits to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. DACA is available to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States before the age of 16 and meet other specific requirements.

To receive an eligibility screening for DACA by an accredited expert, contact us or visit our workshops page and attend a DACA application workshop.

IIBA is part of a collaborative of immigrant-serving, Bay Area organizations that provide DACA services.

  • To see a list of workshops, information sessions, and drop-in hours where you can get your DACA questions answered by accredited nonprofit staff members of the Bay Area DACA collaborative, check out the calendar below.
  • To learn more about the Bay Area DACA Collaborative, visit our Bay Area DACA Collaborative page.

NOTE: This page contains general information and is not legal advice. Each case is different.

Benefits of DACA

What are the benefits of DACA? Read the personal story of Jose Sandoval, whom IIBA helped gain Deferred Action through the DACA program. Additionally, below are the top reasons for getting DACA, as identified by DACA-mented individuals (people who have received DACA).

  • Gain protection from deportation.
  • Get a social security number.
  • Get an Employment Authorization Card.
  • In some states, get a driver's license. (In California, get a standard, unmarked, drivers license instead of an AB 60 driver's license)
  • Ability to apply for a bank account.
  • Ability to apply for a credit card.
  • Ability to pass a background check.
  • Gain the confidence and security to become politically active.
General information
Applying for DACA
Renewing DACA
Safety & privacy information
Specific circumstances
I have a question that isn't answered here...
General information
  • How do I qualify for DACA?
    • Have come to the United States before your sixteenth birthday.
    • Have lived continuously in the U.S. since either June 15, 2007 (if you are applying for DACA under the pre-expansion guidelines) or January 1, 2010 (if you apply under expanded DACA). NOTE: USCIS is not yet accepting applications from people who do not qualify under the pre-expansion guidelines but who may qualify under expanded DACA. See "What is Expanded DACA" below to learn about expanded DACA. Visit our Immigration Action page to learn more about when expanded DACA will begin.
    • Were born on or after June 16, 1981 (if you are applying for DACA under the pre-expansion guidelines) or are any age (if you apply under expanded DACA).
    • Not have a lawful immigration status. To meet this requirement (1) you must have entered the U.S. without papers before June 15, 2012, or, if you entered lawfully, your lawful immigration status must have expired before June 15, 2012; and (2) you must not have a lawful immigration status at the time of your application.
    • Be at least 15 years old. Note: if you are currently in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order, and are not in immigration detention, you may request DACA even if you are not yet 15 years old.
    • Have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces, or “be in school” on the date that you submit your DACA application.
    • Have not been convicted of a felony offense. A felony is a federal, state, or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
    • Have not been convicted of a significant misdemeanor offense or three or more misdemeanor offenses.
    • Not pose a threat to national security or public safety. (DHS has not defined what these terms mean but has indicated that they include gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the U.S.)
  • Can I travel if I have DACA?

    After your DACA application is approved, you may be able to travel outside of the U.S. if you apply for, and receive, advance parole from USCIS. Be sure to check with an attorney or contact us before leaving the U.S. as receiving advance parole does not guarantee that you will be able to return to the U.S..

    If you travel outside of the U.S. before your DACA application is approved, you won’t be eligible for DACA. Note: you cannot apply for advance parole and DACA at the same time and you cannot apply for advance parole until after you have received DACA.

    You can find additional information about advance parole by watching this webinar provided by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network: https://cliniclegal.org/resources/webinars/webinar-travel-abroad-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-daca-recipients.

  • Can I qualify for Medi-Cal if I have DACA?

    After your DACA application is approved, you may qualify for Medi-Cal. Refer to the guides below for more information about applying.

  • I heard about a DACA expansion, tell me about it.

    On November 20th, 2014, President Obama announced an expansion to DACA that would allow more people to be eligible. The new, expanded eligibility criteria was set to go into effect on February 18th, 2015, but was delayed by a court order on February 16, 2015. The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States has thrown DACA's future into question. To learn more about the future of DACA, please contact us or contact another immigration legal service provider (such as a member of the Bay Area DACA Collaborative).

Applying for DACA
  • How do I get / apply for DACA?

    The best way to apply for DACA is to

    You can also apply for DACA directly by visiting www.weownthedream.org.

  • How much does DACA cost?

    The application fee is $465, which consists of a $380 fee for the employment authorization application and an $85 fee for fingerprints. Fee waivers are not available. However, fee exemptions are be available in very limited circumstances.

    We work with a number of banks to provide low-interest loans to individuals who cannot afford to pay the entire application fee at once. You can contact us for more information.

  • What documents do I need in order to apply for DACA?

    In order to apply for DACA, you will need documents proving the following:

    • Proof of identity

      Some Examples: Passport or national identity document from your country of origin; Birth certificate with photo identification; School or military ID with photo; Any U.S. government immigration or other document bearing your name and photo.

    • Proof you came to U.S. before your 16th birthday

      Some Examples: Passport with admission stamp; Form I-94/I-95/I-94W; School records from the U.S. schools you have attended; Any Immigration and Naturalization Service or DHS document stating your date of entry (Form I-862, Notice to Appear); Travel records; Hospital or medical records; Employment records (pay stubs, W-2 Forms, etc.); Official records from a religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony; Copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the country; Birth certificates of children born in the U.S.; Dated bank transactions; Automobile license receipts or registration; Deeds, mortgages, rental agreement contracts; Tax receipts, insurance policies.

    • Proof of immigration status

      Some Examples: Form I-94/I-95/I-94W with authorized stay expiration date; Final order of exclusion, deportation, or removal issued as of June 15, 2012; A charging document placing you into removal proceedings.

    • Proof of presence in U.S. on June 15, 2012

      Something dated showing that you were in the United States on June 15, 2012. For example: a dated receipt.

    • Proof you continuously resided in U.S. since June 15, 2007

      Some Examples: Rent receipts or utility bills; Employment records (pay stubs, W-2 Forms, etc); School records (letters, report cards, etc); Military records (Form DD-214 or NGB Form 22); Official records from a religious entity confirming participation in a religious ceremony; Copies of money order receipts for money sent in or out of the country; Passport entries; Birth certificates of children born in the U.S.; Dated bank transactions; Automobile license receipts or registration; Deeds, mortgages, rental agreement contracts; Tax receipts, insurance policies.

    • Proof of your student status at the time of requesting DACA

      Some Examples: Official records (transcripts, report cards, etc) from the school that you are currently attending in the United States.; U.S. high school diploma or certificate of completion; U.S. GED certificate.

    • (if you are a veteran) Proof you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.

      Some Examples: Form DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty; NGB Form 22, National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service; Military personnel records; Military health records.

    If you have ever been arrested, you should also request a copy of your criminal history from your state or from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). You should also request, from each court in which you had a criminal case, a letter describing what the judge ultimately decided in each case. This letter may be referred to as a “disposition letter” or “certificate of disposition.” If it’s possible that you have an outstanding warrant, we suggest that you do not go in person to request any of these records. If you know you have or even think you may have an outstanding warrant, you should contact us or consult with an attorney or BIA Accredited Representative about what would be the best way to proceed.

  • How do I get my Social Security Number?

    If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your request for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and your application to work in the United States, you may be eligible for a Social Security number. After you get your (I-766) Employment Authorization Card, you can apply for a Social Security number.

    Social Security must interview you in person so you can complete and sign your application. Call your local office, which you can find online at www.socialsecurity.gov/locator. You must bring papers proving you have permission to work in the United States, your immigration status, age and identity.

    You can learn more about the process by reading "Social Security Number and Card — Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals" published by the Social Security Administration.

Renewing DACA
Safety & privacy information
  • How do I know that applying for DACA is Safe? Will the government use the information I give them to try and deport me or my family members?

    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles DACA applications. The USCIS agency does not deal with deportations under any circumstances. At worst, they may refer the case to another government agency. The information in a DACA request, including information about family members and guardians, will not be shared with other government agencies (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of deportation UNLESS the DACA applicant is involved with certain criminal offenses, is found to have lied to USCIS, or is deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

    The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

    • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request.
    • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims.
    • For national security purposes.
    • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
    • This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

    Many people and immigrant advocacy organizations fought hard for the creation of the DACA and DAPA programs.  Organizations and community members will continue to advocate for the extension of the DACA program.  Should DACA be terminated at some point, remember that people who are granted DACA are, by definition, “low priorities” for deportation.

    If you are unsure about applying, contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative.

  • What happens if I apply for DACA and my application is rejected? Will the government use the information I gave them to try and deport me or my family members?

    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles DACA applications. The USCIS agency does not deal with deportations under any circumstances. At worst, they may refer the case to another government agency. USCIS will not share any of your personal information with another government agency simply because your DACA application was rejected. The information in a DACA request, including information about family members and guardians, will not be shared with other government agencies (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of deportation UNLESS the DACA applicant is involved with certain criminal offenses, is found to have lied to USCIS, or is deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

    The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

    • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request.
    • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims.
    • For national security purposes.
    • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
    • This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

    If you have a criminal background, think your application may be rejected, or are unsure about applying, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • What happens if I have DACA and then it expires? Will the government use the information I gave them to try and deport me or my family members?

    United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) handles DACA applications. The USCIS agency does not deal with deportations under any circumstances. At worst, they may refer the case to another government agency. USCIS will not share any of your personal information with another government agency simply because your DACA expired. The information in a DACA request, including information about family members and guardians, will not be shared with other government agencies (including ICE and CBP) for the purpose of deportation UNLESS the DACA applicant is involved with certain criminal offenses, is found to have lied to USCIS, or is deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

    The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:

    • Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request.
    • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims.
    • For national security purposes.
    • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense.
    • This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

    This being said, if your DACA expires, you will lose the benefits of DACA. If your DACA expires, you might also have “unlawful presence,” which could complicate your immigration case in the future. Make sure to renew your DACA before it expires or as soon as possible.

    See our "How to renew DACA" section above for information on how to renew DACA.

Specific circumstances
  • Will I still qualify for DACA if I have a prior order of deportation or other prior immigration violations?

    Possibly. If you have any prior immigration violations, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I previously had a DUI, will I still qualify for DACA?

    If you have received a DUI, your DACA application will likely be rejected. You should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I've been using a fake name / fake social security number / information that wasn't mine. Will this affect my ability to apply for DACA or get employment authorization? Will it place me at risk if I apply?

    Possibly. You should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I have a deportation order, but I did not leave. Will this affect my ability to apply for DACA or place me at risk if I apply?

    You will still qualify for DACA even if you have a deportation order. However, you should contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying.

  • I have / had a case in front of an immigration judge, can I apply for DACA?

    Yes! If you qualify, you can apply for DACA. It doesn't matter that you have / had a case in Immigration Court. That being said, if you are or were in Immigration Court, contact us or speak to a lawyer or a BIA accredited representative before applying. You may need to send a copy of the papers from your immigration court case with your DACA request.

I want to apply for DACA but I'm still worried and have questions

If you want to apply for DACA but you still have questions:

Don't live in the Bay Area? Visit www.weownthedream.org to find a nonprofit immigration legal service provider near you that can help.

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