Helping you through the process of Deferred Action

Many young undocumented immigrants have been hoping and waiting for a chance at legal status ever since the 2001 DREAM Act proposal. Currently, Deferred Action is an option for undocumented immigrants to be protected from deportation while also obtaining work authorization.

Determine the right visa for you.

Find my visa

Start your Deferred Action approval process now

Start Application

Deferred Action Requirements

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) can be granted on a discretionary basis to those who meet a set of specific guidelines.

The Deferred Action requirements set forth by the USCIS are as follows:
  1. You were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
  2. You came to the United States prior to your 16th birthday;
  3. You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 and up until the present time;
  4. You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, as well as at the time of filing your application;
  5. You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. You have never been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and you do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Many DREAMers have questions about whether or not they will qualify for DACA based on these requirements. If you have questions, please contact one of our immigration specialists for more information.

Deferred Action Process

A typical deferred action application consists of a few main steps. The process itself is not complex, but it does require you to pay attention to the USCIS requirements and their methods of evaluation.

The initial application

There are three main forms that the USCIS requires you to submit:

  • Form I-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
  • Form I-765WS (worksheet to establish your economic need for employment)

You will also need to submit supporting documents as evidence of the eligibility requirements.

Background check and biometrics

You will also be required to attend a biometrics appointment. The USCIS will use your biometrics information to verify your identity and conduct your background check. Once they have received and accepted your paper application, you will be notified of when and where your biometrics appointment will take place. You will be required to bring a photo I.D. to your appointment.

After your DACA approval

Once you receive your notice of approval and your work authorization in the mail, you can begin taking your next steps as a DACA-approved DREAMer. With your EAD card, you can:

  • Get your social security number (find your nearest social security office).
  • Get your driver’s license or state identification (if you live in a state that allows it).
  • Find a job or update your records with your current employer.
  • Update your taxpayer information and transfer your credit history.

Deferred Action FAQs

According to the department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), “deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion.” This grant does not confer lawful status; neither does it excuse any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence. Existing regulations allow these individuals to obtain a work permit, as long as he or she demonstrates “an economic necessity for employment.” Deferred action grants exist under the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration issued a memorandum that enables certain undocumented persons, who came to the United States as children, to request consideration for deferred action. As of August 15, 2012, those who meet the specific set of guidelines are able to submit their application to the USCIS. If approved, the grant of deferred action is valid for two years, and provides eligibility to obtain a work permit. Determinations to defer action are made on a case-by-case basis for those individuals who are able to sufficiently document their eligibility.
The USCIS has indicated a very specific set of guidelines for those who wish to be considered for deferred action. You are eligible to apply if you:

  • were under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012;
  • came to the United States before your 16th birthday;
  • have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of filing your request;
  • You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • have never been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
To be considered “currently attending school,” you must be enrolled in:

  • a public or private elementary school, middle school, high school, or alternative program;
  • an education, literacy, or career training program that is designed to lead to placement in post-secondary education, job training, or employment; or
  • an education program assisting students either in obtaining a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent under state law (for example, certificate of completion), or in passing a GED or other equivalent state-authorized exam
If you have never been in removal proceedings, or your proceedings have been terminated before your request: you must be at least 15 years old or older at the time of filing (if you meet the other guidelines).

If you are in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order, and are not in immigration detention: you can request deferred action even if you are under the age of 15 at the time of filing (if you meet the other guidelines).

In all instances: to be considered for deferred action under this process, you may not be 31 years of age or older as of June 15, 2012.

You can still request a grant of deferred action if this is the case, provided that you meet the other criteria. If you are already in immigration detention, the process will differ depending on your situation; consult with your immigration attorney to find out exactly what steps you should take before you can apply for deferred action.
As long as your travel was brief, casual, and innocent, the absence will not be considered an interruption of your continuous residence. The USCIS has identified guidelines with regard to traveling outside of the United States; your departure will be considered brief, casual, and innocent if:

  1. the absence was short and reasonably calculated to accomplish the purpose for the absence;
  2. the absence was not because of an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal;
  3. the absence was not because of an order of voluntary departure, or an administrative grant of voluntary departure before you were placed in exclusion, deportation, or removal proceedings; and
  4. the purpose of the absence and/or your actions while outside the United States were not contrary to law.

If you have any questions or concerns about the nature of your absence from the United States, consult with your immigration attorney.

No. After August 15, 2012, if you travel outside of the United States, your eligibility for deferred action will be compromised and you will not be considered for a grant of deferred action through DACA.
To apply, you will need to submit the following to the USCIS:

  • Form I-821D (Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)
  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
  • Form I-765WS (worksheet to establish your economic need for employment)
  • all supporting documentation and evidence
  • $465 in filing fees (application fee and biometrics fee)

When the USCIS receives your application, they will ensure that it is complete and then send you a notice of receipt. If your application is missing any items, including the full amount of the application fee, it will not be accepted for review and you will not be considered for deferred action.

$465.00 ($380 for the work permit fee and $85 for the biometrics fee).
A limited number of people may qualify for a fee exemption, but you must apply for this and get approval prior to filing your application for deferred action. Consult with your attorney to find out if you meet the criteria necessary to qualify for an exemption.
No; premium processing is not available for deferred action. Some dishonest practitioners may claim to speed up your application if you pay them an extra fee, but no one has the ability to process applications faster. The USCIS evaluates cases in the order in which they are received, and the number of applications in their processing centers determines the amount of time it takes to complete the review.
Yes—you must undergo biographic and biometric analysis as part of your application for deferred action. Once the USCIS has received your application, they will contact you to set up an appointment for your biometrics analysis. Your picture and fingerprints will be run against a variety of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies. If you have been convicted of any felonies or misdemeanors, or have any serious criminal activity on your record, your eligibility for deferred action may be affected; consult with your attorney prior to filing your case to discuss the implications of your background check.
These convictions do not automatically disqualify you. Your case will be reviewed on an individual basis, and the USCIS will make some determinations based on exceptional circumstances. Your immigration attorney can help you clarify potential issues with your background check, as everyone’s situation is different.
If your background check or other evidence serves to indicate that your presence in the United States may threaten public safety or national security, the USCIS may deem you ineligible to receive a grant of deferred action. Indicators that you pose such a threat include, but are not limited to, gang membership, participation in criminal activities, or participation in activities that threaten the United States.
A significant misdemeanor is a misdemeanor as defined by federal law (maximum term of imprisonment is 1 year or less, but greater than 5 days), and either:

  • an offense of domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking, or driving under the influence (regardless of the sentence imposed); or
  • not an offense listed above, but the individual was sentenced to more than 90 days in custody.
The USCIS indicates that multiple misdemeanors are three or more non-significant misdemeanors that did not occur on the same day and did not arise out of the same act, omission, or scheme of misconduct.
The goal of this application process is not to identify and criminalize undocumented individuals. The USCIS offers a confidentiality provision; this agrees to keep your information private from immigration enforcement agencies, unless you meet their criteria to be issued a Notice To Appear (NTA). Individuals are encouraged to consult with their immigration attorney prior to filing their application so that they are aware of the information they are providing to the USCIS and if or how it will be accessed.
The USCIS does outline that “this policy, which may be modified, superseded, or rescinded at any time without notice, is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable by law by any party in any administrative, civil, or criminal matter.”
Employers are able to provide individuals with documentation verifying employment, as they deem appropriate. This information will not be shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless there is evidence of an egregious violation or widespread abuse
No. Your immigration status is private and you do not need to share it with anyone other than your immigration attorney. If you are applying for DACA, we highly recommend you do not tell your employer, no matter how friendly your relationship is.
In your DACA application, if you can prove you have been in the U.S. without providing employment records (such as pay stubs) it’s the best way to go. Good alternatives to pay stubs include utility bills, phone bills, school records, medical records or bills, or even receipts of payment sent to relatives in your home country.

If your employment records contain a Social Security Number that is not your own, talk to an immigration attorney before submitting them as part of your deferred action application.

No. Your employer does not need to know the work permit is only temporary subject to renewal in 2 years. If you have never provided any false employment verification to your employer, then there should be no issue with keeping your current job. Remember that your DACA work permit is all you need to prove you are eligible for employment.
This deferred action policy for DREAMers is a temporary solution. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for issuing the DACA order; this is one of the agencies within the federal government’s executive branch. DHS has the power to make certain decisions about the enforcement of immigration laws, but does not have the power to create a path to permanent resident status and/or citizenship. Only Congress, through its legislative authority, can do this. The DREAM Act is proposed legislation that must be passed by Congress to become law; DACA is a temporary solution to provide relief until Congress establishes more permanent immigration reform.
Yes. Deferred action does not provide permanent resident status or a pathway to citizenship. Only Congress, according to its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that accompanies permanent lawful status. As President Obama has stated, individuals deserve to be certain about their status in the United States; currently, substantial legislation does not exist to provide a working, efficient pathway for non-citizens to obtain legal status.
Possibly. However, we believe the deferred action program will not end in the near future unless it is replaced by the DREAM Act or another immigration reform law. Clearly, President Obama fully supports the deferred action program.
Yes! If you are granted deferred action, you will be issued a work permit for the duration of your deferred action order, provided that you can demonstrate an economic need for employment.
Yes; however the government will not automatically issue you a social security number with your deferred status or work permit. After you have been notified of your deferred action grant and received your work permit, you will need to apply for a social security number at your local Social Security Office.
Many colleges, foundations, and local scholarship organizations provide scholarships for DREAMers and DACA grantees. However current U.S. laws dictate that undocumented students, even if they have a deferred action approval, are not eligible for grants and scholarships at the federal level such as Pell grants or federally-backed loans or work-study positions.
With a DACA approval, an individual can travel anywhere in the United States without fear of deportation. This includes Alaska and Hawaii. However, you cannot have a flight layover in any country besides the United States on your way to these destinations.
If you are interested in traveling internationally after your DACA is approved, you must apply for a separate advance parole/travel authorization. The USCIS generally grants advance parole for international travel if it is for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes; there are some exceptions, which depend on the circumstances. All requests are reviewed by the USCIS on a case-by-case basis, but your attorney will be able to help you determine whether your travel purposes are justifiable.
USCIS does not currently have specific guidelines regarding Advance Parole for DACA grantees. If you have previously been removed from the United States, leaving the country even with DACA and Advance Parole could be a huge risk. Advance Parole is reserved for cases like death of a family members or traveling abroad for school or work, and even with a good reason to leave there are still risks involved. Please consult an immigration attorney if you wish to apply for Advance Parole with DACA.
Each person must qualify for deferred action and a work permit on his or her own merits. The immediate family members of an individual whose deferred action application is approved may also be eligible, but he or she must qualify and apply separately.
Yes. If you get your deferred status, you won’t be removed from the United States or be placed into removal proceedings unless your status is terminated. After the two-year period is up, you may request an extension; the USCIS will consider these requests on a case-by-case basis.
Unfortunately, there are no appeals or reconsiderations through this deferred action process. If you believe that the USCIS made a technical error regarding your application, you may request a review if you meet specific criteria; generally speaking, except in exceptional circumstances, the USCIS will not reevaluate your case.
You will not automatically be referred to ICE if your application for deferred action is denied. Generally, if you are not a criminal offender or a threat to public safety or national security, you will not be a priority for removal from the United States; however these determinations are up to the discretion of the USCIS. If you are concerned about being referred to ICE, or about being issued a Notice To Appear, consult with your immigration attorney as soon as possible to find out what options are available to you.
If you are fortunate enough to qualify, we strongly encourage you to apply.

Some DACA-eligible candidates say they are waiting for immigration reform. There are currently no laws in place that provide a path to legal permanent residence/citizenship to undocumented immigrants, and there is no guarantee immigration reform will pass.

There are rare exceptions where an immigrant might qualify for both DACA and a different type of visa. The only way to find out if you qualify for these visas is by speaking with an immigration lawyer.

*Please note that these answers to frequently asked questions are in no way legal advice, and should not be interpreted as such.

How VISANOW Gets Your DACA Application Approved

All types of deferred action cases are discretionary, and, especially for DACA, it is important to present a strong case in your application and to account for every requirement designated by the USCIS.

When you choose VISANOW as your Deferred Action partner, you can be sure that you’re in good hands. Our online platform keeps you informed every step of the way, with real-time updates on case progress and action items needed. If you have questions about your case, the average VISANOW-affiliated attorney response time is approximately one hour during business hours.

Start pursuing your dreams today, and get started online. We are committed to your success, and all of our DACA applications are backed by a risk-free, money-back guarantee.*

*Some restrictions may apply.

View Our Guarantee Start Application

We built our online platform with your needs in mind.

  • Fast, personal answers from the VISANOW-affiliated attorneys – all at no additional cost to you.
  • Easy and intuitive access to all of your case information, from wherever you are in the world.
  • A dedicated team of attorneys and support staff, trusted by thousands of people just like you.

Still not sure which Visa you need?

Use our free Visa Finder tool to determine the right visa for you.

Find my visa