DACA Affordability: Funding the Dream

daca affordability
Photo credit: Mahalie Stackpole
Although it wasn’t the path to citizenship that DREAMers yearned for, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a major step forward, giving undocumented immigrant youth opportunities to work and study.

A major drawback for many youth already in tough economic situations is the cost – $465 for the initial application and each two-year renewal. In some cases applicants require the assistance of an attorney that will double or triple the cost.

Data shows that a surprisingly low one-third of eligible immigrant youth have applied for DACA. Through December 2013, USCIS reporting shows that the agency accepted 610,694 applications and had approved 512,815 of them. Only 15,968 had been denied. (The remainder is under review.) There are approximately 1.8 million immigrants currently in the United States who might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older. Why haven’t more eligible immigrants applied? Experts suggest a variety of reasons could be to blame, but DACA affordability is a major one.

DREAMer Loan Programs
Several credit unions and organizations sprung to action to offer DREAMer loans to applicants of the DACA program. Generally the loans provide a $465 personal loan for use with the deferred action application. Applicants do not need a credit history, they will need to provide a valid ID from any country, a valid individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), and proof of physical address. Requirements may vary by loan program.
To find a program near you, search Google for “dreamer loan”.

Do-It-Yourself DACA
Many people assume that an immigration attorney is necessary to assist them with the DACA application. If you have a straightforward case, you can do it yourself. Several free resources are available to assist you as well.

CitizenPath is an online immigration document service. That means that we can help you prepare the application with simple, step-by-step instructions and give you alerts if your answer to a question could be problematic. We’re not a legal service, but we are a helpful aid for the do-it-yourselfer that wants a little help. Once you’re done, you get a neatly prepared application and filing instructions that have been customized for you. The low-cost service is free to try here.

Immigration Attorneys
However, if you have an arrest record or otherwise do not fit the DACA eligibility criteria perfectly, it is best to consult with an attorney. An experienced immigration attorney can provide you with advice and a strategy to achieve your goal. Sometimes a simple, inexpensive consultation is all you need to clear up a question.