Defend DACA. Representation Image.
DACA is a program first established by the Obama administration in 2012, Creative Commons

"If you need to renew your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA),the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) encourages you to file your DACA renewal request as early as possible." That is the sense of urgency conveyed by the agency in a document posted in the Homeland Security website.

First established by the Obama administration in 2012, DACA has granted deportation protection and temporary two-year work permits to approximately 600,000 "Dreamers," undocumented young people who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16.

After years of controversies, DACA recipients have settled in and have proven to be major contributors to U.S. economic progress, a study has recently shown. However, their future in the U.S. is still uncertain.

In 2023, a federal court in Texas ruled that the immigration benefit was illegal, but it was allowed to continue for another two years, until September 2025. This decision could still be changed by Congress if lawmakers decide to pass legislation granting Dreamers permanent legal status in the United States.

The recommendation by DHS highlights that DACA renewals and the associated EAD renewals represent "a sizable workload" for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

"Filing within the recommended timeframe reduces the risk that your current period of DACA and employment authorization will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request," the document says.

Since its creation in 2012, DACA has been subject to legal and political threats to eradicate it. This is a pro-DACA rally in Los Angeles in 2019. AFP

"If you file more than one year after your current DACA expires, USCIS considers it an initial request and not a renewal," it adds.

"While USCIS is accepting initial DACA requests, recent court rulings prohibit USCIS from approving them at this time. Therefore, you may submit an initial request by mail, but all initial DACA requests are on hold and USCIS will not adjudicate them at this time," the CIS Ombudsman warned.

For this reason, the CIS Ombudsman recalls DACA recipients to request the renewal four to five months before the expiration date.

How to renew DACA and work permits

The recommendation issued by the Immigration Service ombudsman specifies that Dreamers covered under DACA must:

  • Submit the DACA renewal request 150 to 120 days (four to five months) before the expiration date on their current DACA approval notice (Form I-797, Notice of Action) and employment authorization document (EAD).
    • "Filing the renewal request during this timeframe reduces the risk that the current DACA and employment authorization will expire before USCIS makes a decision on your renewal request. Filing earlier than 150 days before your current DACA expiration will not result in a faster decision."
  • File the renewal request online.
    • Filing it online allows DACA recipients to track their case, respond to requests for evidence electronically, and communicate with USCIS through their online account. It may also save Dreamers money.

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