Giselle M. Rodriguez is a Boston immigration lawyer in Jamaica Plain who helps clients with the full range of immigration challenges, including DACA cases (short for “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals”). Giselle is bilingual (English & Spanish). Contact Giselle for a free consultation today, or read on to learn more.
What is DACA, and how can a DACA lawyer help you stay here?
Often called “Dreamers,” DACA clients typically immigrated to the US as children and want to continue living and working in the US, preferably with a path to citizenship. The DACA law may provide them the opportunity to do that. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provides an opportunity for people who entered the United States unlawfully as children to receive a work permit and Social Security number.
DACA also generally allows for a two-year renewable deferred action from deportation. Although the Trump Administration terminated DACA, the Supreme Court overturned that termination in June 2020. The DACA program has been reinstated since late 2020 and currently USCIS is once again accepting new applications and renewals.
Applying for DACA can be stressful, complicated, and full of potential pitfalls. People who apply while residing in the United States unlawfully may find themselves in removal proceedings if they do not meet all criteria for DACA. Though you can apply on your own, having a dedicated and compassionate DACA lawyer in your corner can protect your legal rights and provide peace of mind. If you are looking to apply for the first time or renew your DACA status, Jamaica Plain immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez can help. Get the process started now and call Giselle for a free consultation.
Who qualifies for DACA?
Not everyone who entered the United States unlawfully as a child can apply for DACA benefits. Some of the DACA requirements include:
- The applicant was under 31 years old on June 15, 2012
- They entered the United States before their 16th birthday
- They have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007
- The applicant was physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012
- They were physically present in the United States when applying for DACA
- They had no lawful status as of June 15, 2012
There are other eligibility requirements for DACA. Candidates should currently either be enrolled in school or have left school with:
- A certificate of completion from high school
- A general education development certificate (GED)
- Received an honorable discharge from the United States Armed Forces or Coast Guard
Candidates may not be able to apply for DACA if they have been convicted of certain criminal acts, such as a felony, several misdemeanors, or a significant misdemeanor. DACA candidates must also not present a threat to national security or public safety.
Although there can be exceptions, applicants must be at least 15 years old to apply for DACA.
Candidates will have to provide documents proving that they are eligible and fulfill all criteria for the program. They will also have to pass a background check.
How to apply for DACA
Applicants for DACA must complete USCIS Form I-821D. To receive a work permit, applicants also must file Form I-765. Applicants will also have to provide substantial evidence of eligibility, including:
- Proof of identity and age
- Proof of having been a resident in the United States from June 5, 2007, up until today
- Proof of educational status OR
- Proof of honorable discharge from United States military service
Benefits of DACA
If your DACA application is approved, you:
- Can receive a work permit that is valid for two years
- Will be protected from deportation
- Can apply for travel outside the United States
- Can receive in-state tuition at university or college
- Can apply for renewal of status after the two years
How a DACA lawyer can help
A DACA lawyer can help in several important ways. An attorney can advise you on the pros and cons of applying for DACA, how to apply, and what you can expect once DACA status has been granted to you.
1. Help with assessing your options
Your attorney will assess your case and advise you on your legal rights, help you understand what a DACA application involves, and tell you whether applying for DACA is the right action in your case. If you are undocumented but do not meet all criteria for DACA, an experienced immigration lawyer can help you assess other options for receiving legal status.
While DACA can be a good step for some immigrants, it does not grant applicants permanent immigration status, and can be revoked at any time. There could potentially be other options for you either now or in the future, depending on your individual circumstances. Your DACA lawyer can help you determine the best course of action for you given your specific circumstances.
2. Help with the DACA application process
When it comes to applying for DACA, your paperwork must be completed correctly and timely. Consider that the evidence required for fulfilling all the criteria can be extensive. A DACA lawyer can ensure all paperwork is filled out correctly, and she or he can help gather and organize the evidence required. Making mistakes on the DACA application forms, or lacking the evidence required for residence and other eligibility criteria, can lead to your case getting dismissed. That can put you in the difficult situation of not having legal status after you announced yourself to the authorities.
3. Protecting your legal rights and representing your best interests
Your DACA attorney will fight for your best interests and will protect your legal rights comprehensively. Having a lawyer by your side can be crucial, especially if you are not sure whether you can provide evidence for all of the necessary criteria for DACA, or if you have a criminal record (which can complicate your case). Navigating the application process alone can be stressful and complicated and we understand that many immigrants are afraid to the process and reveal their unlawful residence in the United States.
An experienced immigration attorney can help you get your DACA status and work permit so you can lawfully reside in the United States and do not have to sleep with one eye open. Having a work permit and legal status can change your entire life and the life of your loved ones for the better. DACA can potentially put an end to the constant struggle of making ends meet without having a work permit in the United States.
You can take the first step today. Giselle can discuss your legal options with you, with the goal of getting your work permit and establishing your legal status as soon as possible.