DACA Lawyer in San Francisco

DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, grants temporary status to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16. DACA is an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012 that allows qualifying individuals to remain in the U.S. for two years, subject to renewal. President Trump ended DACA in 2017, but courts have allowed the program to continue. President Biden signed an order affirming DACA protections in 2021.

Who Qualifies for DACA?

Individuals must meet certain criteria to qualify for DACA:

  • Entered the U.S. unlawfully prior to their 16th birthday
  • Lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007
  • Were under age 31 on June 15, 2012
  • Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and at the time of their request for deferred action with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are enrolled in school
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or a serious misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

What Are the Criteria for a DACA Extension?

DACA status lasts for two years. Reapplication is necessary every two years, and applicants must meet certain criteria:

  • Applicant did not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012 without a valid travel document (Form I-131).
  • Applicant continuously resided in the U.S. since submitting their most recent approved DACA request.
  • Applicant has not been convicted of a felony, a serious misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and does not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

What Are the Benefits of DACA?

DACA recipients can live and work in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Other benefits include:

  • DACA recipients can obtain a Social Security Card.
  • DACA recipients can be authorized to work in the U.S.
  • DACA recipients may qualify for Medicare.
  • DACA recipients do not qualify for educational financial aid through the federal government, but many universities and other educational institutions offer scholarships to DACA recipients. Some states also allow DACA recipients to qualify for in-state tuition.

Are DACA and the Dream Act the Same Thing?

DACA is a temporary program that began through an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012. The executive order was a response to Congress’ failure to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. The DREAM Act would have provided a pathway to citizenship for those attending college or serving in the military and keeping good standing. While DACA does not currently provide a path to citizenship, DACA recipients and Dreamers are generally interchangeable terms.

Who Are Dreamers?

Dreamers are technically those who qualified for protection under the DREAM act. Many of these young people did not realize they were not citizens. They identify as Americans and have no recollection of the country where they were born. Some Dreamers speak only English and came to the U.S. as infants. The nickname Dreamer is a reference to the DREAM Act but is often used to describe those who meet the criteria to qualify for DACA.

Can Dreamers Become Citizens?

There is currently no path to citizenship for DACA recipients unless they also have other qualifying factors. For example, if you are a DACA recipient and married to a U.S. citizen or green card holder, you may be eligible for a marriage-based green card.

Helping Undocumented Immigrants in San Francisco

If you have never applied for DACA but believe you qualify, it is not too late. A court decision in December 2020 restored DACA, permitting initial applications. If your DACA status will soon expire, you can apply for a status extension. Having DACA status may be beneficial if future laws recognize people with DACA as eligible for permanent status.

Immigration laws and policies change. Our knowledgeable attorney understands the latest changes and how they affect you.

Our skilled attorney can help you apply for DACA or for a DACA extension. We also can assist you if you have let your DACA status lapse. Call Harrison Law Office, P.C. at (415) 212-6817 or contact us online for a consultation.

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