Deferred Action Status

Official DACA renewal process was finally announced

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On Thursday, USCIS finally released the new revised form I-821D for both Initial DACA applications and Renewal DACA applications. As of June 5, 2014, all DACA applications, both initial and renewal must be submitted on the new I-821D form.

Here is an overview of the requirements for filing a DACA renewal application:

When to file? 

  • You should submit your DACA renewal application no sooner than 150 days prior to the expiration of your status.
  • In order to avoid accruing unlawful presence you should submit your DACA renewal application no later than 120 days prior to the expiration of your status.
  • You may submit your DACA renewal application up to one year after the expiration of your status. However, as soon as your DACA status expires, you begin accruing unlawful presence, and your employment authorization is no longer valid.

What to file?

  • You must submit your DACA renewal application with 2 passport photographs and a copy of your current employment authorization card showing that you have DACA status.
  • If you have traveled without advance parole since August 15, 2012, you must include evidence of your travel
  • If you have incurred any new criminal arrests, charges, or convictions, for which USCIS does not have any records of, you must include those in your renewal application.

As you may notice, there is no requirement to submit evidence that you are still enrolled in school or that you have graduated from any program you were previously enrolled in. However, we encourage all DACA recipients to complete their courses of study or to continue to pursue an education as these requirements could change in the future.

To find out more about the renewal process or even about the initial filing process, please visit USCIS Frequently Asked Questions page (

Immigration reform in unexpected places: Will DREAMers get a path to citizenship by being able to enlist in the military?

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On April 10, 2014 the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA) held its annual National Day of Action (NDA) where AILA members meet with their respective representatives to discuss immigration issues. During last year’s NDA, the focus was on getting an immigration reform bill passed in the Senate. Thankfully, the Senate acted but unfortunately we still do not have a bill that has passed the House of Representatives.

Nancy and Andrea visited with our respective representatives from Illinois and Virginia. This year, the focus of NDA was to gather information from our Congressmen about what the misgivings were on immigration reform and also to bring attention to the inequities of our current broken immigration system.

Andrea and Nancy in the Rayburn Building

Andrea and Nancy in the Rayburn Building

During our visits we stressed the fact that even though we might not be able to get comprehensive immigration reform, there is much that the House can do to improve the immigration system we have in place, as well as addressing immigration issues in upcoming appropriations and DHS bills. Here is a link to the information brochure prepared by AILA regarding immigration reform:

Since April there has been a lot of buzz in the media about immigration reform.  We hear a lot about how the House Republicans don’t want to pass immigration reform because they are not confident that President Obama would enforce the laws as they are written. We also hear that the White House is threatening to take up the issue of immigration reform on its own if the House doesn’t act soon. Unfortunately this type of uncompromising approach does not yield results. Because “comprehensive immigration reform” appears to be such a divisive topic, we have to find other ways through other laws to give our immigrant community the opportunity to get legal status.

In this vein, there has been movement in Congress to allow immigrants who were brought here as children to enlist in the military and gain permanent residence through their service. The ENLIST Act (H.R. 2377) is being offered by Republican Representative Jeff Denham (CA) as an amendment to the must pass National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Even House Speaker John Boehner has stated that they might be able to get a standalone vote on the Enlist Act instead of taking it up as an amendment to the NDAA.  Also this week, Senator Dick Durbin hosted a field hearing in Chicago on immigrant enlistment in the military.  Witnesses included Rep. Gutierrez (D-IL), AILA Advocacy Director Greg Chen, members of the military, and two undocumented cadets from the Phoenix Military Academy.  If the ENLIST Act were to pass, this could mean a path to citizenship to a whole host of immigrants who had no such hopes before.

Even though change may not be coming in the form that we envisioned, we must never give up the good fight. As this latest turn in immigration reform has shown, the change can come from some of the most unexpected places.

DACA students eligible for in-state tuition in Virginia

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On April 29, 2014 Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that students who have approved Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) are eligible for in-state tuition at Virginia public universities and colleges.

The difference between in-state tuition and out-of state tuition is significant. For example, in-state tuition for a Bachelor’s degree at George Mason University for the 2013-2014 school year was $9,908/year while out-of-state tuition was a whopping $28,592/year, almost 3 times more expensive!

The Attorney General explained that DACA students are eligible for in-state tuition because they are able to form subjective domiciliary intent unlike foreign students in other temporary visa categories such as F-1. This is because students who have DACA have lawful status that can be renewed indefinitely, and as such, they can form the intent to remain in Virginia indefinitely. (See his letter to Presidents of Virginia Public Colleges and Universities here:

Each Virginia public university or college has its own application for in-state tuition. However, the requirements for proving eligibility are the same. They are as follows:

  1. Proof that you have had DACA for one full year prior to the start of the semester
  2. Proof of Virginia Domicile since the day your DACA was approved (this includes but is not limited to the following):
    1. Virginia high school transcript
    2. Virginia driver’s license
    3. Virginia car registration
    4. Virginia tax returns
    5. Copies of lease, utility bills, cell phone bills, bank account statements, car insurance, etc. (anything with your name on it showing you were residing in Virginia)
    6. Virginia marriage certificate (if you are married)

If you do not renew your DACA after the two year expiration date, you will no longer be eligible for in-state tuition; therefore it is extremely important to pay attention to that expiration date. As discussed in our previous post, DACA applicants can submit their DACA renewal application up to 5 months prior to the expiration of their card, but should wait no more than 4 months prior to expiration to submit their application in order to avoid being out of status.

Here is a link to some helpful FAQs regarding in-state tuition for DACA students:

Also, there will be an Information Session on In-state Tuition Requirements for Virginia DACA Holders hosted by the Legal Aid Justice Center on Monday May 19 from 6:30 to 8:30pm. Here is the link to RSVP to this event:

DACA Renewal Tips

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association has prepared a video for individuals renewing their Deferred Action status. The video gives tips for filing applications, and warns applicants to stay away from “notarios” and other unauthorized providers of immigration law.