On December 4, 2020, a US District Court ordered the Department of Homeland Security to restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program—otherwise known as DACA. For individuals who missed out the first time in 2012 and were unable to file initial applications, this is very significant, as the government has only been processing renewal applications since 2017.
In accordance with the Court order, USCIS has announced that:
- The agency will accept first-time or initial applications for DACA pursuant to the program in effect before September 5, 2017.
- DACA renewal requests based on the criteria in effect prior to September 5, 2017 will also be processed
- Applications for Advance Parole (Form I-131) will be accepted and processed
- DACA grants that were previously issued for one year under the policy before this order will be extended to two years
- Similarly, employment authorization documents issued with one-year validity periods will be extended to two years
Besides re-opening the program to those who failed to file initial applications, the advance parole provision is very significant. In winding down the DACA program, USCIS had implied as late as August of this year that requests would be sparingly granted and limited to cases with extraordinary circumstances. Examples would include travel to support the national security interests of the US; travel to support the federal law enforcement interests; travel to obtain life-sustaining medical treatment that is not otherwise available to the alien in the US; or travel needed to support the immediate safety, wellbeing, or care of an immediate relative, particularly minor children of the alien. Now that this policy has been rescinded, there should hopefully be better prospects for individuals to obtain travel permission for circumstances that may not be exigent as above but nevertheless important. Under previous guidance, advance parole for DACA was considered for applicants who could demonstrate that travel was for “humanitarian, education, or employment” purposes.
In some cases, travel—even on advance parole—can trigger adverse consequences for the foreign national, so it is especially important for applicants to carefully assess the pros and cons of applying for travel permission. For more information on the legal risks and benefits of daca advance parole, please contact our office. The above is general information only. It is not specific legal advice nor intended to create an attorney client relationship. If you need advice, please consult with an attorney.