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What are the minimum requirements to apply for DACA?

Imagine that, at the age of five, you were brought into the United States under illegal circumstances. Your parents decided at that time that it was beneficial for the whole family to attempt an entry into the country. You were successful, and your family has been living in the U.S. ever since. However, you live in constant fear that one random encounter with the police could lead to a massive investigation into your lack of citizenship, one that would eventually result in your (and possibly your family's) deportation.

This is the reality for many people in this country -- people who have grown up in the U.S. and think of this country as their own, but who were brought here under circumstances that were out of their control. Shouldn't they be protected in some way? Shouldn't we offer something that ensures they aren't punished to the full extent of our immigration laws?

This is where the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) comes in. People who apply for and are accepted into the DACA program are granted protections from removal action. However, there are some strict guidelines in order to obtain DACA protections:

  • You must have been under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and you must have been physically in the United States on that date, as well as when you apply for DACA.
  • You must have arrived in the United States before you were 16 years old.
  • You must have resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 until the present.
  • You must currently be in school, have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, or you must be enrolled in U.S. military service or have been honorably discharged from military service.
  • You must not have any felonies, serious misdemeanors or three or more misdemeanors in your criminal past. Also, you must not pose a national security threat of some kind.

Source: Department of Homeland Security, "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," Accessed July 22, 2014

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber