You are here

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA is a special program announced by President Obama on June 15, 2012. It allows for some undocumented individuals, between the ages of 15 and 31 to apply for protection against deportation, and to work legally in the U.S. for a two year period.

Some people call DACA the Dream Act. The Dream Act is not a law, but only a proposed law. DACA is a program that started as an alternative to the Dream Act. DACA is not a green card or a visa, and it is not a path to citizenship. It only means that the government will not deport you for a period of two years, and will allow you to work for two years.

  1. Can I apply for DACA?
    • You must meet certain requirements to apply for DACA. You should speak with a qualified immigration lawyer or a Bureau of Immigration Appeals (BIA) accredited representative for legal advice about your case. In general, you are eligible to apply if you:
    • Have come to the U.S. before turning 16,
    • Have lived only in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present,
    • Were under the age of 31 and undocumented on June 15, 2012,
    • Be in school, have finished high school, have your GED, or have been honorably discharged from the armed forces of the U.S.,
    • Have not been convicted of certain crimes,
    • Have been in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and when you apply for DACA.
  2. What happens when I have DACA?
    • If your application for DACA is approved, you:
      • Will get DACA and a work permit that are valid for a period of two years. Under the program’s guidelines, you will be able to apply to renew both your DACA and your work permit.
      • Are protected against deportation while you have DACA status.
        • however, the government can take away your DACA status at any time.
      • You can apply for permission to travel outside the United States, called “Advance Parole.”
      • You are eligible for in-state tuition at a college or university.
  3. How do I apply for DACA?
    • You must submit the following to the United States Immigration and Service Center (USCIS):
      • Form I-1821D, Consideration for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,
      • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document,
      • Form I-765WS – Employment Authorization Document economic need supplement form,
      • The filing fee of $465 for the DACA application and the Application for Employment Authorization,
      • Evidence that you are eligible to apply. This may include:
        • Proof of your age
        • Proof that you have lived in the United States from June 5, 2007 to the present
        • Proof that you are in school, finished high school, have your GED, or where honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States.
  4. Didn’t the requirements for DACA change?
    • No, the requirements have not yet changed. On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced that the DACA program would change to include individuals who came to the United States before their 16th birthday before January 1, 2010 who meet the other requirements. But the expanded DACA program is on hold so the program has not yet been expanded.
  5. How do I renew my DACA?
    • You must meet the following requirements to renew your DACA:
    • You were granted DACA in the past.
    • You did not leave the United States after August 15, 2012, without first getting permission called “Advance Parole.”
    • You lived continuously in the United States from the time you submitted your original DACA application up until the present time.
    • You have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, or threaten national security or public safety.
    • Apply for renewal at the right time. You can find a DACA renewal calculator here.
  6. Can I apply for some other form of immigration relief while I have DACA?
    • Yes. If you are eligible for another form of immigration relief, like asylum, you may want to apply while you have DACA, because DACA does not lead to permanent status.
  7. Am I eligible for in-state tuition at colleges or universities in Massachusetts if I have DACA?
    • If you live in Massachusetts and become documented through DACA, you will be eligible for in-state tuition at any public college or university in Massachusetts.  Whether or not students with DACA will be accepted and are eligible for in-state tuition varies from state to state and sometimes school to school. For example, in Connecticut, students with DACA are eligible for in-state tuition rates. In Vermont and New Hampshire they are not. In Rhode Island, it varies from school to school. If you have DACA and are looking at schools outside of Massachusetts, you should look at the school’s admission policies and ask an admissions officer to find out whether or not you can receive in-state tuition.
    • You can find out more information about state aid policies from the Department of Education.
    • You can find a list of scholarships available to undocumented students from the Department of Education.
  8. I scored in the top 25% of my school district on the MCAS. Am I eligible for the Adams Scholarship?
    • The Adams Scholarship is awarded to graduating Massachusetts high school students who scored in the top 25% of their school district on MCAS. The Adams Scholarship waives tuition for up to eight semesters at any Massachusetts public university, state college, or community college. The tuition benefit must be used within six years of your high school graduation.
    • Before, the Adams Scholarship was limited to U.S. citizens and noncitizens eligible for federal Title IV financial aid. Now, a new rule allows immigrant students who have been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS), U visas, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or other types of Deferred Action, and Withholding of Removal, and as well as students with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or similar federal immigration documents may now qualify for the Scholarship.
    • If you received an Adams Scholarship Award Letter in the past that you were not able to use, you may now be able to use the award. To obtain this benefit for the current academic year, you must contact the financial aid office at your institution after January 1, 2016 with a copy of your Award Letter and your evidence of eligible immigration status and ask that your Adams Scholarship be applied to your tuition retroactive to the beginning of this academic year (Fall 2015).
    • If you are an immigrant student with questions about the applicability of the new Board policy to your situation, please contact Iris Gomez, Director of the Immigrants Protection Project at Massachusetts Law Reform Institute: (617) 357-0700.
    • If you are an immigrant student looking for other information, you may wish to contact the Student Immigrant Movement (SIM), a statewide immigrant youth organization.
  9. Am I eligible for federal financial aid if I have DACA?
    • DACA students are not eligible for federal financial aid. However, you may still be eligible for state or private financial aid. Most financial aid sources determine availability using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you have DACA and a social security number, you can fill out the FAFSA without applying for the federal aid. If you have questions, talk to a guidance counselor or financial aid officer at your school to find out if you can use the FAFSA to get the type of financial aid you are looking for.
    • You can find out more about eligibility for federal financial aid from the Department of Education.
    • You can find a list of scholarships available to undocumented students from the Department of Education.

For more information, talk to an experienced immigration lawyer or check the USCIS website.

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Created May 2016