The federal government froze applications to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for several years, but the program reopened after a December 2020 court ruling. DACA protects undocumented individuals who came to this country as children from deportation.
Not everyone qualifies for DACA coverage. There are strict requirements regarding criminal records, education status, and the length of residence in the country. An experienced immigration attorney could clear up some common misconceptions about applying for DACA coverage in Oak Brook and help you gain access to this program.
DACA protection is unavailable for certain individuals. All applicants must have entered the United States without lawful status before they reached 16 years of age. Additionally, they must also have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012. The other two most important conditions to consider are an applicant’s educational background and their criminal history.
Admittance into the DACA program requires some degree of educational accomplishment, but there are a few different ways an applicant can meet this requirement. A person who has completed high school is qualified for DACA coverage, as are students who are still working towards their high school diploma. Anyone who has completed a general educational development (GED) certificate could also qualify.
There is another exception to this requirement that involves military service. Any person who has received an honorable discharge from any of the branches of the United States military, including the Coast Guard, could qualify for DACA coverage.
Another important factor in the DACA application process is an applicant’s criminal record. Any person convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor offense will not be eligible. While traffic violations will not disqualify an applicant, three or more minor misdemeanor offenses might prohibit someone from entering the program. For many people, it may not be immediately clear if their misdemeanor conviction will bar them from the DACA program. An experienced attorney in Oak Brook could identify if a person’s criminal charge is considered a significant misdemeanor or not before he or she applies for DACA coverage.
In addition to the requirements concerning an applicant’s education or criminal record, DACA coverage also demands that the applicant remain in the United States for an extended period of time. Filing for DACA coverage requires a person to not only be in the United States at the time of filing but also to have been residing in the country from June 15, 2007, onward. Individuals that have not been in the United States continuously since that date could be disqualified from DACA coverage.
There are some exceptions to this rule. Travel outside of the country that occurred between June 15, 2007, and August 15, 2012, will not affect a claim of continuous residence in the United States if it was considered “brief, casual, and innocent.” Quick visits to other countries for casual purposes will not invalidate an application, but travel that was extended, related to criminal activity, or due to a deportation order affects continuous residence. Any travel after August 15, 2012, is subject to government approval prior to leaving the country. A skilled lawyer in Oak Brook could help someone applying for DACA demonstrate that he or she has maintained continuous residence in the U.S
There are significant risks that come with pursuing a DACA application on your own. A successful application requires substantial evidence, and the failure to provide it could result in a denial. By allowing an Oak Brook attorney to assist you with the details of the application process, you could successfully receive DACA coverage. Contact us to learn more about your options.