New York State Youth Leadership Council

Deferred Action

On June 15, 2012, Obama announced a policy change called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which would stop the deportation of some youth and provide them with work authorization. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals does not put you on a path to citizenship. Here is a list of useful documents to look at in many languages. Download AALDEF’s Deferred Action fact sheet in Chinese, Korean, Bengali, Urdu, and English to find out whether you meet the eligibility criteria and what documents you should start gathering for the application.

1 – Do You Qualify for DACA or Other Forms of Relief?


There are other forms of relief besides Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, please look this over before you consider applying for DACA and see if you qualify for something else. While DACA is good, there are betters forms of relief. If you do qualify for any of these visas, let us know!
The requirements for Deferred Action are:

  • You must be 15-30 years old to apply.
  • DHS has indicated that those who were under 31 years old as of June 15, 2012 (the date of the President’s announcement) will most likely be able to apply.
  • You must have arrived in the U.S. before you turned 16.
  • In addition, DHS has indicated that this protection will be available to youth under 15 years old if they are in removal proceedings.
Continuous Presence
  • In order to apply, you must be continuously present in the U.S. for a minimum of 5 years.
  • You must have been present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
Education or military service At least one of the following must be true in order for you to apply:

  • You are currently in high school
  • You have earned a GED or high school diploma
  • You have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces.

We have recently learned that you do not need to have earned your GED by the June 15 announcement date. This means that even if you are not currently pursuing your education, you can earn your GED now and apply in the future.

Clear criminal record (a criminal background check will be required) Any one of the following will make you ineligiblefor Deferred Action:

  • felony
  • significant misdemeanor
  • three or more misdemeanors of any kind

If you are considered a threat to national security or public safety, you are not eligible and are at increased risk for removal.

2 – Collect Your Documents and Money

If you’re eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, it’s time to start gathering your application documents. These are the documents you need to have before applying.

First, carefully review the official USCIS instructionsfor gathering your pre-application documents.
Here’s a summary of what you’ll need:

    • Two (2) passport-style photographs (for the Employment Authorization application)
    • Copy of foreign passport biographic page and any prior visa & I-94 cards (if available)
    • Copy of original birth certificate and translation
    • Copy of marriage certificate or divorce (if applicable)
    • Copy of every criminal and/or traffic court case on record (if applicable)

-Every incident/arrest/police report. If you cannot get your record—eg. it is more than 5 years old and the police station records dept has destroyed it—then ask the police for a letter on letterhead saying that the record has been purged.
-Every criminal complaint/charging document from the district attorney (or other prosecutor). That’s the court document a prosecutor first files with all of the charges against you and what they think you are potentially guilty of having committed from a single incident.
-Every final criminal court disposition record. That’s the final ruling from the judge in your case stating the outcome after settlement or trial or dismissal; it should include your sentence and post-conviction sentencing information.
-Post-conviction showing that you completed all terms of probation/sentence. For example, if you are still on probation, it is something showing you are currently in compliance.

    • Copy of school records, such as:

– Proof of Enrollment

– Report Cards and/or Transcripts

– School Identification Card(s)

– Awards from high school (and college, if applicable)

    • Copy of high school diploma or GED certificate (if applicable)
    • Proof of entry prior to age 16, continuous residence in U.S. since June 15, 2007 and presence on June 15, 2012, such as:

– Federal Income Tax Returns or Tax Transcripts (filed independently or as a dependent)
– Employment records, letters from internships & volunteer work, medical records
– Leases, rental receipts, other dated receipts, utility bills, cell phone bills
– Bank statements, credit card statements, copies of cancelled checks
– Birth certificates of children and/or siblings born in the U.S. for the stated period
– Affidavits from relatives, friends, teachers, and churches attesting to your presence
– Photographs placing you in the U.S. since the age of 16 & since 2007

Fees: The fees for DACA are $85 biometrics fee + $380 work authorization document fee = $465 total.

Fee Exemption (must be completed and approved before you file): You cannot apply for a fee waiver, but there are some very limited exemptions. There are fee exemptions for those under 18, homeless, in foster care, lacking parental support, with income less than 150% of federal poverty guidelines, who cannot care for themselves because of chronic disability, or who have accumulated very serious medical-related debt. There will be a separate fee exemption form, which must be approved before a DACA request can be filed without a fee. It is hard to know how long it will take to review fee exemption requests. Check USCIS for more information about these exemptions, and how to apply. This is a list of people who qualify for fee exemptions.

Other Financial Assistance: If you need help paying the application fees, you can apply for money from the Fund for DREAMers.

3 – Get Your Application Ready

Individuals *must* file the following forms:

  • Form I-821D – Application for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
  • Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Form I-765WS – Employment Authorization Worksheet
  • This sample cover letter will help you order your application and keep track of the things you needed to include.

This is recommended, but not mandatory:

  • Form G-1145 – E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (you’ll want to paperclip this to the front of the Form I-821D)

Payment:In the application package you mail to USCIS, it’s preferable to include two separate checks *or* money orders: one for the $85 biometrics fee, and one for the $380 work authorization fee. They will accept one check or money order, but would prefer two. If you plan to use personal checks, be sure there’s enough money in your account. If either check bounces, your application will be rejected. Checks must be made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not accept abbreviate.

4 – Get Legal Assistance


5 – Double Check Your Application and Mail it Out

-Write your name and date of birth the same way on each form: Variations in the way information is written can cause delays. For example, you should not write Jane Doe on one form and Jane E. Doe on another form.

-Answer all questions completely and accurately: If If an item is not applicable or the answer is “none,” leave the space blank. To ensure your request is accepted for processing, be sure to complete these required form fields:

-Form I-821D: Name, Address, Date of Birth
-Form I-765: Name, Address, Date of Birth, Eligibility Category

-Provide all required supporting documentation and evidence: You must submit all required evidence and supporting documentation. These documents are required for USCIS to make a decision on your request. Organize and label your evidence by the guideline it meets.

-If you make an error on a form, start over with a clean form: USCIS prefers that you type your answers into the form and then print it. If you are filling out your form by hand, use black ink. If you make a mistake, please start over with a new form. Scanners will see through white out or correction tape and this could lead to the form being processed as incorrect, and lead to processing delays or denial.

-Copy/Scan Your Entire Application: Make a photocopy or scan of your entire application, including the checks or money orders. You may need to refer to your application again in the future (or show it to an advocate or attorney). This is especially important if the Dream Act passes, or if you become eligible to file for permanent status; you will want a record of everything you stated in your DACA application.

-Label and Protect Your Photographs: On the back of your photographs, label in pencil your full name and date of birth. Place both photographs in a small plastic bag (like a sandwich bag) and paperclip (do not staple) them to front of your application (behind the Form G-1145).

-Sign All Forms: Make sure your original signature is on all USCIS forms (Form I-821D and Form I-765)
Mail all forms together in one package. When you mail your application, we highly recommend that you select a delivery option that allows you to track your package. You will want to have proof the document was sent AND be able to see when it arrives.
-USCIS Mailing Address: The address to mail your application will depend on your U.S. state of residence (i.e. California, Illinois, New York, Texas, etc.). On the USCIS website, check the section “Filing Addresses for Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” to find the correct mailing address on the Form I-821D. NOTE: USCIS will not accept any online, email, or faxed applications.

6 – Wait for Confirmation

-E-Notification Confirmation: If you fill out the Form G-1145, you’ll receive an e-Notification when your forms have been received (you’ll want to paperclip this form to the front of the Form I-821D)

-Paper Receipt Confirmation: Within 1-4 weeks of sending your DACA application, you should receive a paper receipt in the mail. We hope that all applicants will be able to track the online progress of their individual DACA receipts here and also track the general progress of all DACA applications’ processing times nationwide here.

7 – Biometrics Appointment


Within a few months of getting your DACA receipt, you should get an appointment notice to visit an Application Support Center (ASC) to have your biometrics taken. Make sure to bring a valid (unexpired) government-issued photo ID (i.e. your passport) to your appointment. This does not mean you have been approved; they are just checking your criminal background and getting your prints on record.

8 – Wait for Approval


Applying for DACA doesn’t require an individual interview, so you shouldn’t need to go to your local USCIS office for an interview. However, if anything is missing from your application, or if the adjudicating USCIS officer has questions, you may be mailed a “Request for Evidence” (RFE). You will need to respond to this RFE with additional proof by the deadline given (about one month). If you ignore this request, your case will be automatically denied. Don’t hesitate to contact us if anything!
At this time, we don’t know how long DACA cases will take to process. Other USCIS humanitarian applications take around 8-12 months for a final decision (or longer). Once you receive notification that DACA has been approved, you will receive a work authorization card valid for 2 years.
Don’t forget to empower those around you by sharing your story and letting us know how your application process went and how you felt through it all. Email us your story.

9 – Obtain Local and State Benefits

Once you’ve received your work authorization card, you can apply for various local and state benefits. All DACA recipients will be eligible for a Social Security Number. In New York you CAN get a license see here for more information.

10 – What Now?

Deferred Action is not a permanent solution and it does not help a huge chunk of our community. It is important for us to continue building and pushing for a permanent solution to being undocumented which is why we need everyone on board. Feel free to contact us and find out ways to get involved! Don’t just stop with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the work still continues.