You are here

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Important Information About DACA Requests

Due to a federal court order, USCIS has resumed accepting requests to renew a grant of deferred action under DACA. USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never before been granted deferred action under DACA. Until further notice, and unless otherwise provided in this guidance, the DACA policy will be operated on the terms in place before it was rescinded on Sept. 5, 2017. For more information, visit Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: Response to January 2018 Preliminary Injunction.

On June 15, 2012, then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum entitled “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children,” creating a non-congressionally authorized administrative program that permitted certain individuals who came to the United States as juveniles and meet several criteria—including lacking any current lawful immigration status—to request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and eligibility for work authorization.  This program became known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The Obama administration chose to deploy DACA by Executive Branch memorandum—despite the fact that Congress affirmatively rejected such a program in the normal legislative process on multiple occasions. The constitutionality of this action has been widely questioned since its inception.

DACA’s criteria were overly broad, and not intended to apply only to children. Under the categorical criteria established in the June 15, 2012 memorandum, individuals could apply for deferred action if they had come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday; were under age 31; had continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007; and were in school, graduated or had obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or were an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States. Significantly, individuals were ineligible if they had been convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor, but were considered eligible even if they had been convicted of up to two other misdemeanors.

The Attorney General sent a letter to the Department on September 4, 2017, articulating his legal determination that DACA “was effectuated by the previous administration through executive action, without proper statutory authority and with no established end-date, after Congress' repeated rejection of proposed legislation that would have accomplished a similar result. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.” The letter further stated that because DACA “has the same legal and constitutional defects that the courts recognized as to DAPA, it is likely that potentially imminent litigation would yield similar results with respect to DACA.”

Based on this analysis, the President was faced with a stark choice: do nothing and allow for the probability that the entire DACA program could be immediately enjoined by a court in a disruptive manner, or instead phase out the program in an orderly fashion. On September 5, 2017, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Duke issued a memorandum (1) rescinding the June 2012 memo that established DACA, and (2) setting forward a plan for phasing out DACA. The result of this phased approach is that the Department of Homeland Security will provide a limited window in which it will adjudicate certain requests for DACA and associated applications for Employment Authorization Documents meeting parameters specified below.

On June 22, 2018, Secretary Nielsen issued a memorandum clarifying the Department's position.

  • Please see the USCIS website for the latest information about DACA.

Additional Information

Archived Information


Last Published Date: September 23, 2019

Was this page helpful?

This page was not helpful because the content:
Back to Top