Trump Has Dismantled DACA: If You are a Recipient, What’s Next for You?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was established by President Obama in June 2012 as a form of relief for undocumented individuals. It was meant to help individuals who immigrated to the United States as children, giving them a limited time to stay in the country and get work authorization. On September 5, 2017, President Trump gave the orders to start winding down DACA. That means the program will phase out, over the span of two and a half years, and eventually come to an end unless Congress finds a way to save the program.

Whether you were granted DACA, you have a pending application, or you were exploring DACA as an option, you may understandably feel frustrated by the change. Still, you must understand your immigration rights in light of the cancelled program. Here’s an overview of the changes to help you plan your next steps.

Can I still send a new application?

As of September 5, 2017 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will reject all “initial” applications for DACA. That means you cannot file a new application for DACA anymore.

What about renewals?

Does your DACA expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018? If yes, you need to send an application to renew your existing grant of DACA on or before October 5, 2017 as USCIS will continue to process applications only till this date. Note that this is a very short window so you need to get started right away.

USCIS will reject all applications accepted after October 5, 2017. Make sure your renewal application isn’t just postmarked to that date, because it must received by USCIS by October 5, 2017.

What happens to my pending application?

If you already filed a petition before September 5,2017 for either a new DACA grant or a renewal, your application may still be pending. In that case, USCIS will still process your application.

What if I already have DACA?

If you currently hold an unexpired DACA grant, you will keep it until your specific expiration date. Accordingly, you will be considered to be under DACA until the date of expiration of your work authorization.

What happens to my work authorization?

Do you have a work permit, formally called an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), in addition to your DACA grant? Don’t worry about losing work just yet: your EAD will stay valid until it expires as usual. That means you have the right to keep working. You can also apply for new jobs and change jobs until the EAD expiration date. Remember that if your employer asks about your DACA status, you have no legal obligation to answer. Your employer also cannot legally fire you or put you on leave until your work permit expires.

Can I still travel outside the country?

No. As a DACA holder, you are now restricted from travelling outside the United States by the governmental change on September 5, 2017. This is called advance parole. USCIS will reject all new applications to leave the country and administratively close all pending applications.

If you were previously approved for advance parole, you may be able to travel within the dates provided on your travel document. You should speak with an immigration lawyer to make sure this is a good idea. In many cases, you are not guaranteed re-entry if you leave the country.

What else do I need to know?

Anyone with an uncertain immigration status should stay out of trouble with the law and avoid contact with law enforcement that may result in an arrest. You have the right to remain silent in case you are stopped or questioned by ICE. If you have any legal troubles or are arrested get in touch with a professional immigration attorney right away. If you have a criminal conviction, contact a professional immigration attorney right away to study your options and possibly changing the conviction to lessen the impact of a future immigration case you may have.

If you have a pending DACA application, make sure you attend the biometrics appointments on time and give USCIS any other information they may need to process your petition.

For those who currently have DACA and a work permit, apply for a Social Security Number (SSN) before your status expires. Your SSN will stay valid for life. You can also check your state requirements for a driver’s license or state ID and apply if you’re eligible. These types of documents can help you with your immigration status in the US.

What other options do I have?

The cancellation of DACA may feel like everything is lost, but it’s important that you act as soon as possible. Whether you need help with a DACA renewal application, travel outside of the US, a criminal arrest, deportation proceedings, or other immigration matter, make sure you contact an experienced and knowledgeable attorney like the attorneys at Rotella & Hernandez. Call us to gain the compassionate guidance of an exceptional immigration lawyer. We will make sure you have the peace of mind to move forward with your life.

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