How to renew your DACA status in 2020 (You still can!)

June 17, 2020
How to renew your DACA status in 2020 (You still can!)

Summary

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed DACA to continue, but the future of DACA is still uncertain. You can renew your DACA and work permit until further notice, but USCIS is not accepting new DACA applications or DACA Advance Parole applications. Renewing your DACA and work permit costs $495 and takes 6-12 months. This guide explains everything you need to know to renew your DACA and work authorization by yourself. ImmigrationHelp.org can help you prepare your paperwork for free using our simple app. Click the button below to get started, or read on to learn more.

Overview

What is going on with DACA and the Supreme Court?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, more commonly known as "DACA," has allowed undocumented immigrants who came to the United States without immigration status as children to live and work here since August of 2012. Over 670,000 “Dreamers” have enrolled in DACA. In September of 2017, the Trump administration announced that they were ending the DACA program for national security reasons. Since then, a federal judge issued a court order saying that Trump did not have the authority to end DACA and that the program did not negatively affect public safety. Trump asked the Supreme Court to overrule that court’s decision. The Court decided to hear the case in November of 2019. Most experts think that the Supreme Court will make their decision before the end of this June 2020.

No one knows what will happen after the Supreme Court makes their decision. Because of this, it’s wise to renew your DACA status ASAP. The rest of this article will give you the tools you need to prepare and file your DACA renewal with confidence.

UPDATE 7/29/2020

The Department of Homeland Security announced that USCIS will reject all new DACA applications, reject all DACA Advanced Parole applications, and limit renewals to 1 year for all applications submitted after 7/28/20. The Supreme Court Decision from 6/18/2020 seemed to say that USCIS must start accepting new DACA and Advanced Parole applications again, and that all renewals should continue to be for 2 years. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that USCIS will not follow these guidelines. Instead, they are making significant temporary changes to DACA while they work on a new attempt to end or permanently change the program.

What does the new DHS policy mean for you?

  1. You can't submit an initial DACA application.
  2. If your DACA has been expired for more than 1 year, you can't renew it.
  3. You can't apply for Advanced Parole as a DACA recipient.
  4. If you submit an application for renewal after 7/28/20, and that application is approved, your status will only be renewed for 1 year rather than for the usual 2 years.
  5. If you already submitted an application for renewal before 7/28/20, and that application is approved, your status should be renewed for 2 years. It is quite possible that USCIS will only renew your status for 1 year even if you submitted before 7/28/20. If that happens, we suggest that you speak with an attorney.

We will let you know if anything changes. USCIS will also announce any updates on their news feed. Until then, it would be wise to renew your DACA status as soon as possible. ImmigrationHelp.org can help you prepare your DACA Renewal forms for free with our simple web application.

UPDATE 6/26/2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services (USCIS) is NOT currently accepting new DACA applications or DACA Advanced Parole applications. They are accepting renewal applications. We will let you know if and when this changes. If they begin accepting new DACA applications or granting Advanced Parole to DACA recipients, USCIS will make an announcement on their news feed.

UPDATE 6/18/2020

Earlier today, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed DACA to continue for a while longer. They said that Trump can end DACA, but that the way he tried to end it this time around didn’t meet the legal requirements. Trump could definitely still end DACA - he just won’t be able to until he makes a better argument for ending it. He may try again at any time. We can help you prepare and file your forms, for free, before anything changes.

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How is COVID-19 affecting DACA renewals?

COVID-19, also known as "coronavirus," has had a big impact on DACA renewals. USCIS (the government agency that processes DACA paperwork), closed their offices On March 18th, 2020. They reopened most of their offices on June 4th, 2020. This long closure has affected application processing times, so USCIS will probably take longer than usual to process DACA renewals submitted after June 4th. For a while, USCIS was using old biometrics for renewals, and they have not said when they will start requiring new biometrics again. It is safe to assume that most DACA renewals submitted after June 4th will need new biometrics. Check out the Informed Immigrant guide to stay up to speed on how COVID-19 is affecting DACA renewals.

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Can I renew my DACA?

You can renew your DACA grant and employment authorization if all of the following are true:

  • You have DACA or have had it in the past. People who have never applied for DACA cannot apply now.
  • You didn’t leave the U.S. since your initial application for DACA without getting Advanced Parole
  • You have lived in the U.S. continuously since your most recent approved DACA application
  • You have never been charged with a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or several smaller misdemeanors
  • Your DACA expiration date wasn't more than one year ago. If your DACA expired more than one year ago, you may still be able to renew it with the help of an attorney.
  • Your current DACA expiration date isn't more than one year from now.
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When should I renew my DACA?

DACA is a temporary status that expires every two years. DACA recipients can't work with expired status, so most of them renew their DACA well before it expires. USCIS processes most renewal requests within 120 days, but COVID-19 has increased that time a good deal.

Your new DACA and employment authorization will expire two years after USCIS approves your renewal request. This means that you may lose a bit of time on your new status if you apply more than 120 days before your current DACA expires. It takes a long time for USCIS to process DACA renewal requests, and the future of DACA is uncertain. So many people are submitting their renewals earlier than usual. You should submit your renewal application when you feel comfortable doing so.

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How much does it cost to renew DACA?

When you submit your DACA renewal, you will have to pay two fees for a total of $495:

  • $410 for your employment authorization
  • $85 for your biometrics (photo and fingerprinting)

These fees might change soon. In November of, 2019, President Trump proposed a new rule that would increase these fees to $765. USCIS has to allow time for the public to comment on the new rule, so the fee has not increased yet. There is still time to renew with the current fee.

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How can I get help paying for my DACA renewal?

Many DACA recipients have a hard time affording their DACA renewal. If that's you, the ideas below may help.

Prepare the forms yourself

DACA renewal is expensive enough without having to pay an attorney for help you. So we at ImmigrationHelp.org worked with immigration attorneys to build an app that will help you prepare your DACA paperwork for free. This app will produce all the required paperwork. You will only need to pay the filing fees and not the $500+ that lawyers often charge. We’ll even review your forms for you, for free, when you’ve completed the app! Click the button below to get started.

Ask people for help

  • Start a personal fundraising page on GoFundMe. They have resources to help DACA recipients crowd-fund for renewal fees.
  • Send letters and emails to select friends or family members asking for help. You can use this template as a starting point.
  • Instead of gifts for your birthday, ask for money to help you pay for your DACA renewal.

Ask organizations for help

  • Ask your employer to pay your renewal fee. Helping you keep your status helps them keep you as an employee. Hiring a new employee to replace you if you lose status will likely cost them much more than the $495 it would cost them to help you renew.
  • If you are a member of a church or other faith group, reach out to them. They may be willing to help you!
  • Many colleges have programs to help Dreamers. If you are a college or university student, contact your financial aid office to ask if they can help you.
  • Apply for the Voto Latino pro bono “UndocuNeighbor” initiative.
  • Apply for the United We Dream DACA renewal fund.

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DACA Renewal Checklist

When you are ready to submit your DACA renewal paperwork, you will need the following things:

  • $495 Filing and Biometrics Fee. You can pay this with either a
  • Money Order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” or
  • A completed Form G-1450 if you’d like to pay by credit card.
  • A cover letter that outlines the things you have included in your application packet.
  • A completed Form I-821D
  • A completed Form I-765
  • Two passport photos of you taken within 30 days of your filing
  • A copy of the front and back of your current employment authorization document
  • A completed Form I-765WS
  • OPTIONAL - A completed Form G-1145 if you would like to receive email notifications from USCIS about your DACA renewal
  • Copies of any documents that you are submitting to support anything you said in your application.

If you use the free ImmigrationHelp.org app to prepare your paperwork, we will provide you with a completed Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS. All you will need to do is review the forms, sign them, and include the other items above when you file. You can get started with our app by clicking the button below.

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How to renew your DACA and Work Permit (A step-by-step guide)

The following information will help you prepare your DACA renewal application. It is not legal advice. You can definitely file your DACA renewal yourself. If you need extra help, though, you can reach out to local non-profit organizations that provide free and low-cost legal help.

DACA renewal is an 11-step process. Let’s get started!

1. Find your most recent renewal paperwork

You will use it as a guide to complete your new DACA renewal forms. You can cross-reference your old and new paperwork to make sure that the information is consistent. If you are using the Immigrants Like Us app, you can easily answer the questions using the information from your previous DACA renewal.

2. Get the forms you’ll need

If you use the free ImmigrationHelp.org app to prepare your paperwork, we will provide you with the forms you need. You can get started with our app by clicking the green button below this section.

If you decide to go it alone, download the most current DACA and work permit forms directly from USCIS. USCIS may reject your application if you use wrong or outdated forms.

A completed DACA renewal application needs to include these forms:

3. Fill out the forms

If you use our free DACA renewal app to prepare your paperwork, we will help you make sure that your Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS are good to go. You can get started with our app by clicking the button below this section.

If you complete the forms without our help, make sure that you read the instructions carefully. You should check your responses against your previous renewal filing to make sure that the information is consistent. It is a good idea to fill out the forms on a computer, phone, or tablet so that your answers are easy to read. If you fill the forms out by hand, make sure that you write legibly with a black pen.

4. Write a cover letter

A cover letter tells USCIS who you are, what you are applying for, and what items you have included in your application packet. This helps the USCIS officer easily see what they are about to review and avoid overlooking anything. This cover letter template from United We Dream is a great starting point.

5. Get your passport photo taken

You will need to include two passport photos taken within 30 days of the day you file your Form I-765. Many pharmacies, post offices, and Fedex and UPS stores will take passport photos for a small fee.

6. Pay the filing fees

USCIS does not accept cash, so you will need to pay the $495 filing fee with a money order or by credit card. You can get a money order from most banks and post offices as well as from many grocery stores. The money order should be for exactly $495 and made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use abbreviations like “DHS.”

If you choose to pay by credit card, you will need to include a completed Form G-1450 with your application paperwork.

7. Make a copy of everything

This includes your money order and all supporting documents, as well as any receipt for mailing your paperwork. Keep these copies in a safe place.

8. Assemble your renewal packet

We recommend that you assemble your packet in the following order to make it easier for USCIS to review:

  1. Money Order or D-1450
  2. Cover Letter
  3. Form G-1145 (if you choose to submit it)
  4. Form I-821D
  5. Form I-765
  6. Passport photos
  7. A copy of the front and back of your current employment authorization document
  8. Form I-765WS
  9. Copies of any supporting documents

Do not staple the items in your packet together. Staples make it harder for USCIS to review everything and they may reject your filing as a result. Use paper clips instead.

9. Mail your renewal packet to USCIS

After reviewing and double-checking your DACA renewal, you are ready to send it to USCIS! USCIS has a quick reference guide that will show you where to send your renewal request based on your location. Use a mail service that includes a tracking number. The USPS’ Priority Mail flat-rate envelopes are a great option.

If you have been arrested since your last approved DACA renewal, you should speak with an attorney before you submit your renewal packet. You can find free or low-priced legal help at USA.gov.

10. Attend your biometrics appointment

After you submit your DACA renewal, you will need to attend a biometrics appointment (photo and fingerprinting). USCIS will usually schedule your biometrics appointment for 6-8 weeks after you submit your paperwork. The purpose of this appointment is to ensure you do not have a serious criminal record or any relevant prior immigration violations. This article provides a great overview of what to expect during your biometrics appointment.

11. Receive your new DACA and Employment Authorization Card

You should receive your DACA and employment authorization card 6 to 12 months after you send in your completed renewal packet. Hurray, you’re done! Great job handling this difficult process like a pro.


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What is the DACA renewal timeline?

A typical DACA renewal takes 6-12 months. During that time, USCIS will send a variety of notices about your application to the mailing address that you provided on your paperwork. Most people who apply to renew their DACA and employment authorization receive the following notices in order.

Receipt Notice (2-3 weeks after you file)

You will receive a notice that USCIS has received your filing 2-3 weeks after you mail it to USCIS. This notice will contain a unique code called a “Receipt Number” that consists of 3 letters and 10 numbers, such as ABC1234567891. You can use this code to track the status of your application here.

Biometrics Appointment Notice (4-6 weeks after you file)

As part of the DACA process, you will need to attend a biometrics (photo and fingerprinting) appointment. USCIS will schedule this appointment and send you notice of the date, time, and location 4-6 weeks after you file your application. The appointment will usually occur 6-8 weeks after you file.

DACA Approval (5-10 months after you file)

If all goes well, USCIS will approve your Form I-821D and send you an approval letter 5-10 months after you file your application.

Employment Authorization Card (6-12 months after you file)

After USCIS approves your I-821D, they will process your I-765 within about 90 days. You should receive your new employment authorization card 6-12 months after you file your application.

If you haven't received any notices 105 days after filing your application, contact the USCIS Contact Center.

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What if I need help?

We built an app to help you prepare your DACA paperwork, by yourself, for free. If you use it, you will get all the required paperwork completed and ready to submit. We’ll even review your forms for you, for free, when you’ve completed the app! Click the button below to get started.

If you need help after you’ve submitted your forms, reach out to a local non-profit organization. Many of them provide free and low-cost legal help.

Best of luck with your DACA renewal - we’re rooting for you!

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