DACA Renewals: Process, Eligibility

This guide provides essential information on the DACA renewal process, including eligibility criteria, timing, required documentation, and best practices for maintaining legal status in the United States.


Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a crucial immigration policy that has been at the forefront of legal and political discussions in the United States. Established in 2012, DACA provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for certain young people who were brought to the U.S. as children. The renewal process for DACA recipients is a critical aspect of maintaining their status and continuing their lives in the United States.

This guide focuses on the DACA renewal process and eligibility requirements, providing essential information for current DACA recipients and those who support them. Understanding the renewal process is vital for maintaining legal status and access to work authorization, which are fundamental to the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country.

DACA was introduced by the Obama administration in 2012 as an executive action. The program was designed to provide a degree of stability and opportunity for young undocumented immigrants who had grown up in the United States. Since its inception, DACA has faced numerous legal challenges and policy changes, creating a complex and often uncertain landscape for recipients.

In recent years, court decisions have significantly impacted the DACA program. While new applications have been suspended due to legal rulings, renewals for current DACA recipients have continued. This distinction is crucial for understanding the current state of the program and the options available to DACA recipients.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the primary federal agency responsible for administering the DACA program. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of DHS, handles the processing of DACA renewal requests.

As of 2024, the legal framework for DACA renewals remains in place, despite ongoing litigation. According to the USCIS official website, current DACA recipients can continue to submit renewal requests [https://www.uscis.gov/DACA]. This continuity is crucial for maintaining the protections and benefits afforded by the program.

Key Components of DACA Renewals

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for DACA renewal, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have previously been granted DACA
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States since submitting their last DACA request
  3. Have not departed the U.S. without advance parole
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors
  5. Do not pose a threat to national security or public safety

Renewal Timing

USCIS strongly recommends that DACA recipients submit their renewal requests between 120 and 150 days (4 to 5 months) before their current DACA expiration date. This timing is crucial to ensure continuous coverage and avoid gaps in work authorization.

Required Documentation

Renewal applicants must submit:

  1. Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  2. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
  3. Form I-765WS, Worksheet
  4. Supporting documents as required


Applicants must pay the required fees associated with the renewal process, which can change over time. It's essential to check the current fee structure on the USCIS website before submitting a renewal request.

Rights and Responsibilities

Rights of DACA Recipients

DACA recipients have the right to:

  1. Remain in the United States without fear of deportation for the duration of their deferred action period
  2. Apply for and receive work authorization
  3. Apply for advance parole to travel outside the U.S. for certain purposes
  4. In some states, obtain a driver's license and access higher education


DACA recipients must:

  1. Maintain a clean criminal record
  2. Renew their DACA status on time
  3. Update USCIS with any changes in address or contact information
  4. Comply with all U.S. laws and regulations

Common Issues and Challenges

Renewal Delays

One of the most significant challenges DACA recipients face is potential delays in the renewal process. These delays can lead to gaps in work authorization, causing employment issues and financial instability.

Changing Guidelines

The DACA program has been subject to policy changes and legal challenges, which can create uncertainty for recipients. Staying informed about the latest developments is crucial for navigating the renewal process successfully.

Employment Verification

Employers must verify the employment eligibility of their workers, including DACA recipients. The Department of Justice reminds employers that the DACA court decisions do not change Form I-9 rules or processes [https://www.justice.gov/crt/reminders-daca-recipients-and-employers]. DACA recipients with valid Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) remain eligible to work.

Case Studies and Notable Examples

While specific case studies are not provided in the source material, it's important to note that DACA has affected hundreds of thousands of individuals across the United States. Each renewal case represents a unique story of an individual striving to maintain their status and continue building their life in the only country many have known as home.

Best Practices and Compliance Strategies

  1. Submit renewal requests early: Aim for the 120-150 day window before expiration.
  2. Keep detailed records: Maintain copies of all DACA-related documents and correspondence.
  3. Stay informed: Regularly check the USCIS website for updates on DACA policies and procedures.
  4. Seek legal advice: Consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for personalized guidance.
  5. Maintain eligibility: Avoid any actions that could jeopardize DACA status, such as criminal activities or extended travel outside the U.S.

Recent Developments and Proposed Changes

As of 2024, there have been ongoing discussions about modernizing and strengthening the DACA program. A letter addressed to President Biden, referenced in our sources, suggests potential changes to the program, including:

  1. Reducing the continuous residence requirement from the current standard to five years before the time of application.
  2. Exploring options to provide a pathway to permanent residency for DACA recipients.

These proposals aim to address some of the limitations of the current DACA framework and provide more stability for recipients [https://ramirez.house.gov/sites/evo-subsites/ramirez.house.gov/files/evo-media-document/Letter_Modernize%20and%20Strengthen%20DACA,%20Immigrant%20Youth,%20and%20Long-Term%20Undocumented%20Immigrants-compressed.pdf].

Additionally, the Federal Register indicates that while new DACA applications are currently on hold due to legal challenges, a partial stay allows DHS to continue processing DACA renewal requests and related applications for employment authorization documents [https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2024/05/08/2024-09661/clarifying-the-eligibility-of-deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals-daca-recipients-and-certain].

Resources for Further Information

For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on DACA renewals, individuals should consult the following official resources:

  1. USCIS DACA Page: [https://www.uscis.gov/DACA] This is the primary source for official information on DACA, including renewal procedures and eligibility requirements.
  2. Department of Homeland Security DACA Information: [https://www.dhs.gov/deferred-action-childhood-arrivals] Provides an overview of the DACA program and its current status.
  3. Department of Justice Guidance for Employers: [https://www.justice.gov/crt/reminders-daca-recipients-and-employers] Offers important information for employers of DACA recipients regarding employment verification and anti-discrimination laws.

DACA recipients and their advocates should regularly check these resources for the most current guidance and information. Given the complex and evolving nature of immigration law, consulting with a qualified immigration attorney is also advisable for personalized advice and assistance with the renewal process.

In conclusion, while the DACA program continues to face legal challenges, the renewal process remains a vital lifeline for hundreds of thousands of individuals. By understanding the renewal requirements, staying informed about policy changes, and following best practices, DACA recipients can take proactive steps to maintain their status and continue building their lives in the United States.

About the author
Von Wooding, Esq.

Von Wooding, Esq.

Lawyer and Founder

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