The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is an immigration guideline allowing prosecutors to exercise discretion for people who arrived in the U.S. prior to the age of 16. Several eligibility guidelines must be met in order for DACA to apply.
When people are eligible for DACA, the status will allow them to seek work authorization as well. Those covered by DACA are protected for two-year, renewable periods, although Obama recently announced the period would be expanded to three years. People must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and must have arrived before they were 16. They must also have lived in the U.S. continuously since June 15, 2007 and must have been in the U.S. when DACA was announced. They must also not have had lawful status in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and must meet educational or military service requirements. Finally, people may not have a felony or a major misdemeanor conviction, and they cannot have three misdemeanor offenses.
In order to apply, people must be at least 15 on the date of the application. They must be in school, have graduated from high school or have obtained their GED. Alternatively, they may be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
While DACA does not confer immigration status, it does afford protection to those who arrived in the U.S. as children. People who do not have lawful status in the U.S. and who otherwise meet the eligibility guidelines to request DACA should consider doing so. Because the eligibility requirements vary and each case is different, a potential DACA applicant might consider consulting with an attorney before filing the necessary documentation.