Preparing your initial DACA application, even with a lawyer’s help, was probably challenging. The concept of deferred action was very new, and the application packet was voluminous. But renewing DACA on your own has never been easier. Once the initial application has been approved, DACA renewals are generally much easier. Far fewer documents are required. And with the right guidance, many do-it-yourself filers can prepare the DACA renewal application by themselves.
For DACA recipients with straightforward cases, renewing your deferred action status is possible. If you’ve ever run into problems with law enforcement or immigration authorities, it’s a good idea to discuss your situation with an immigration attorney. In many situations and with the right advice, you might still be able to renew DACA on your own.
If you choose to prepare and file the DACA renewal application on your own, accuracy and attention to detail are extremely important. Errors, omissions and inconsistencies can minimally create delays in your approval. In the worst cases, these minor mistakes can create long-term immigration problems.
What You’ll Need Before Renewing DACA on Your Own
It’s helpful to gather several items before you begin preparing your DACA renewal application. You’ll need:
- Copies of your Employment Authorization Card (front and back)
- Copy of Social Security Card (if applicable)
- Your initial DACA application
- Two passport-style photos
- List of addresses since your most recent grant of DACA
- Estimates of your annual income, expenses, and assets (for I-765W)
Forms Used to Renew DACA
When renewing DACA, you will use the same forms as the initial application packet. However, you’ll need far less supporting documentation. So it’s easier. To file a two-year renewal of DACA, you’ll need to submit forms:
- I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
- I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- I-765 Worksheet
- G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional)
All forms can be downloaded from the USCIS website.
Tips for Preparing and Filing Your DACA Renewal
When renewing DACA on your own, careful preparation and attention to detail is important. Inconsistencies and omissions can lead to processing delays and even bigger problems. USCIS is also prone to their own mistakes. Applications, evidence and even fees can get lost. Do your part to organize your DACA renewal package in a way that minimizes the chances of a USCIS error as well.
- Answer all the questions completely and accurately. If an item is not applicable, write “N/A,” or write “None” if the answer is none.
- Type or print answers in black ink. Do not use whiteout.
- Use consistent answers on each form. You may need to reference previously filed copies of your Forms I-821D and I-765.
- Don’t forget to sign and date all forms.
- Provide all required supporting documentation and evidence. You may submit copies (not originals) of the supporting documents.
- Any document that is not written in English must be translated to English before being submitted to USCIS. Include a copy of the document in its original language, along with a translated copy and a certification of translation.
- Submit the correct USCIS fees of $465. You may send separate checks of $380 and $85, or one single check of $465. Make the check payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Include your name and A-Number in the memo line of the check or money order.
- Make and keep a copy of the entire application, including a copy of the forms, supporting documents, and the fee check.
When to File Your DACA Renewal
USCIS is notoriously slow and often falls behind their already unimpressive processing goals. Recently, USCIS acknowledged significant delays in the DACA renewal process. This can be stressful and problematic, especially if you depend on your Employment Authorization Card for work.
You can’t control these factors, but you can control your application. We recommend:
- Prepare Early
Begin preparing your DACA application 6 months prior to the expiration date so that its ready to file 5 months (150 days) prior to the expiration.
- Submit a well-prepared application packet
This means that your forms are error-free and consistent. Supporting documentation should be in order. Take time to review the details.
- File on time
Again, CitizenPath recommends that you file 5 months (150 days) prior to the expiration date on your card. File it at least 120 days before the expiration date to stay in the safe zone.
USCIS also encourages you to file your renewal request within the recommended 150-120 day filing period to minimize the possibility that your current period of DACA will expire before you receive a decision on your renewal request. Requests received earlier than 150 days in advance will be accepted by USCIS. However, this could result in an overlap between your current DACA and your renewal. This means your renewal period may extend for less than a full two years from the date that your current DACA period expires. For more information about renewal times and the consequences of late renewals, read When to Renew DACA.
When You Should Not Renew DACA on Your Own
If any of the following situations apply to you, you should not be renewing DACA on your own. These situations are inherently more complicated and require expert assistance to ensure your case is successful. Remember, USCIS will conduct a criminal background check when reviewing a request for consideration of DACA. Don’t take chances if you might have a problem. Seek assistance with your DACA renewal if you:
- Have an open case in immigration court;
- Had any kind of trouble or contact with the police since you were granted DACA;
- Were granted DACA by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); or
- Have left the country after receiving DACA without an advance parole document.
If any of the above situations apply to you, we recommend that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney before filing any USCIS forms. You will need to submit additional evidence with your renewal application. An attorney can help explain why these scenarios make your case more difficult and what you can do.
Fee Exemptions for DACA
Very limited fee exemptions are available for the employment authorization applications (Form I-765) connected to DACA. Before you can file the DACA renewal application without a fee, you’ll need to get a fee exemption approved by USCIS. In order to be considered for a fee exemption, you must submit a letter and supporting documentation to USCIS demonstrating that you:
- Are under 18 years of age, have an income that is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level, and are in foster care or otherwise lacking any parental or other familial support; OR
- Under 18 years of age and homeless; OR
- Cannot care for yourself because you suffer from a serious, chronic disability and your income is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level; OR,
- Have, at the time of the request, accumulated $10,000 or more in debt in the past 12 months as a result of unreimbursed medical expenses for yourself or an immediate family member, and your income is less than 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level.
Again, it’s necessary to get an approval on your fee exemption before filing the DACA application without a fee. Visit www.uscis.gov for more information on evidence for consideration of the DACA fee exemption.
What to Expect After Filing DACA Application
For a detailed time line of events after your DACA application is filed, visit What Happens After Filing Form I-821D.
USCIS says that factors which may affect the timely processing of your DACA renewal request include, but are not limited to: discrepancies in answers or evidence, issues related to travel abroad that need additional evidence/clarification, incomplete answers or evidence, and no-shows or reschedules related to biometrics appointments.
If you file your DACA application at least 120 days in advance of the expiration date, and USCIS has not made a decision during that time, they may grant a temporary extension of DACA and work authorization. USCIS’ current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. You may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry online, please visit egov.uscis.gov/e-request. You may also ask to have your case expedited by submitting a case assistance request with the USCIS Ombudsman. Explain the reason for the urgency (e.g. you may lose your job) and request that your case be expedited.
Renewing DACA on your own is easy with CitizenPath. CitizenPath provides simple, step-by-step guidance through USCIS applications and petitions and provides alerts if there’s a problem. We even guarantee that your application will be accepted by USCIS. CitizenPath provides support to Renew DACA (Forms I-821D, I-765 and I-765WS), the Citizenship Application (Form N-400), and several other popular forms.
Use CitizenPath DACA Renewal Calculator to determine your best time to renew DACA. We’ll also send you a reminder email.