DACA Path to Citizenship

For those currently living in the US, the DACA path to citizenship may be an option. Professional legal assistance could help. Call KC Immigration Lawyers.

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What Is DACA?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is an immigration procedure that President Barack Obama instituted in 2012 to protect millions of undocumented youths living in the United States. The program provides undocumented immigrants with employment authorization and temporary protected status from deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security.

The program has suffered several legal challenges since then, including denials of DACA renewal requests during the Trump administration, but a court reinstated DACA renewal requests. However, the Biden administration charged Congress to initiate measures to protect young immigrants with changes to existing policies. The goal is to ensure that more initial DACA requests are approved, and more young people can attain DACA status.

While it is not a permanent solution for young people that were childhood arrivals to the United States, the DACA program could be a useful step toward attaining lawful permanent residence (“green card”) and citizenship. So if you entered the United States as a child (less than 16 years old) and would like to apply for a green card or US citizenship, please read on to see if DACA can help you.

Eligibility Requirements for DACA

You are eligible to request deferred deportation under DACA if:

  • On June 15, 2012, you were under 31 years of age

  • You arrived in the U.S. before turning 16

  • You have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007

  • You were physically present in the US on June 15, 2012

  • You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012

  • You are currently enrolled in school, have graduated or have obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or are a veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States

  • You have no felony or significant misdemeanor convictions, more than three misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to public safety

However, even if you meet these criteria, DACA has no guaranteed approval. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has the discretion to deny an application even if the individual meets all the eligibility requirements.

DACA AS A PATHWAY TO PERMANENT RESIDENCY AND CITIZENSHIP

Beneficiaries of DACA are protected from forced removal from the U.S. and are legally allowed to work. The process does not confer “lawful immigration status,” so it cannot directly lead to citizenship. The applicant may, however, have an opportunity to become a citizen in the future, depending on the status of their current immigration.

As a DACA recipient, you may already meet the legal entry requirements for an immigrant visa (“or green card”) if you entered the country with a valid U.S. visa. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) generally approves green cards for those with a close relative, such as a spouse, who has U.S. citizenship or permanent residence. Once you hold a green card for several years, you can apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen. A green card lawyer can help you with this process.

You might be eligible for advance parole if you entered the country illegally without a valid visa. Advance parole allows you to return to your home country for certain reasons and return to the United States.

USCIS approves DACA applications at their sole discretion, and refusals cannot be appealed. Getting things right the first time is, therefore, crucial. With the representation of an immigration lawyer, you can significantly increase your chances of receiving approval by avoiding errors in your application.

 

Pros & Cons of a Path to Citizenship for DACA Recipients

Here are some pros and cons of DACA for permanent resident status.

Pros

  • Many people think that it is morally just to provide a path to citizenship for DACA recipients, who were brought to the U.S. as kids and have grown up in the country. They have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives, and it is not fair to force them to live in a state of uncertainty and fear of deportation.
  • Providing a path to citizenship for DACA recipients could also lead to social benefits, such as greater civic engagement, increased educational attainment, and improved public health outcomes.
  • DACA recipients often have strong ties to their communities and families in the United States. Deporting them to countries where they have no support could be cruel and inhumane.

Cons

  • Providing a path to citizenship for DACA recipients could incentivize more illegal immigration, as parents may bring their children to the United States with the hope of obtaining citizenship in the future.
  • It could be seen as unfair to people who followed a legal pathway to citizenship.

The federal law to get a lawful permanent resident status allows different pathways to get permanent legal status. But people with DACA status don’t yet have a direct path to citizenship in U.S. immigration law.

 

 

TRANSITION FROM DACA TO CITIZENSHIP WITH KC IMMIGRATION LAWYERS

If you have further questions about the DACA to permanent resident and citizenship process, Kansas City Immigration Lawyers can help. We can guide you on your immigration journey and answer any related questions. Call us today to book a free consultation with a K1 visa lawyer.