November 30, 2021

How Long Does DACA Take To Process?

After you have finally mailed off your DACA application, now comes time to wait for the application approval. You are probably anxious to know what happens after filing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Form I-821D). Here is an outline of the I-821D processing time and what you can expect during the way. 

Can First-Time Applicants Apply for DACA?

Unfortunately, due to legal challenges, the DACA program is not adjudicating any new applicants as of July 16, 2021. Due to an order from the Southern District of Texas, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is prohibited from granting any new DACA requests and accompanying employment authorizations. You may still submit an initial request but those applications will be held at immigration until a final decision is made by the courts. However, DHS will continue to deny or approve renewal requests.

How Long Does It Take for a DACA Application To Be Approved?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive approval timeline for a DACA application. Due to the current legal challenges, initial reviews are suspended and only renewals will be approved. Before the suspension, you could have expected the process to take several months for approval. If there were any issues with the application, that could cause a delay in the approval times. 

Related: A Complete Guide to DACA 

What Happens After the DACA Is Filed?

Before the program suspension, the typical application process required a few steps. After you have correctly filed Form I-821D, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sends a receipt notice through the mail. This receipt is officially known as Form I-797C - Notice of Action. You will receive that notice about 2 to 3 weeks after filing the form.

In some situations, Form I-821D was not filed correctly, and you will see a Request for Evidence asking for additional documents. If you received that request, you could expect your application processing time to be delayed. 

Related: Request for Evidence (RFE): What You Need to Know

How Do I Know If My DACA Was Approved?

Woman on her phone checking her immigration status

The USCIS sends an approval notice in the mail. However, it is a lengthy process before you can expect this notification. About 3 to 5 weeks after filing, you will receive an appointment notice for biometrics. The statement will have the time, date, and location of the appointment. 

All DACA applicants must be fingerprinted for a criminal background check and security clearance. Don't feel alarmed - every applicant must have a background check. While you can reschedule your USCIS biometrics appointment, you want to show up for the initial appointment. 

During this screening, the USCIS collects your fingerprints, signature, and photograph. Expect to spend about a half-hour at the facility. Make sure to check your notice - it specifics what you need for the appointment. Don't forget your government-issued photo identification, such as:

  • Driver's license
  • Passport or national photo identification
  • Military photo identification
  • State-issued photo ID card

The biometrics appointment is not an interview. The USCIS just wants to collect your biometrics information. If you can’t make the appointment, it can be rescheduled. However, any rescheduling will lead to a longer DACA processing time. 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to the Biometrics Appointment

How Long Does DACA Take To Process After Biometrics?

After the biometrics stage, the USCIS reviews your case and makes a decision. You can typically expect a decision in about 4 to 8 months. If everything is approved, you will receive Form I-797, which officially informs you of the USCIS' decision. 

The USCIS does not begin processing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization until your DACA application has been approved. In many cases, it takes 90 days to process the I-765 for your new employment authorization card or work permit. Always make sure that the USCIS has your current address to receive these applications. All of the DACA statuses are valid for two years, while EAD cards are valid for a one-year period.  

If you have not heard from the USCIS for an initial application, chances are it is being held due to recent court rulings. 

How Long Does the DACA Renewal Process Take?

Currently, only renewal processes are being reviewed. You can request a DACA renewal if you meet the following guidelines:

  • Did not leave the United States on or after August 15, 2021
  • Continuously resided in the United States since the DACA forms were approved
  • Have not been convicted of a significant misdemeanor or felony
  • Does not pose any threat to public safety or national security

USCIS specifies that DACA renewal requests are processed within 120 days

Can I Speed Up a DACA Renewal?

Unfortunately, you cannot speed up the renewal process. However, you can avoid any unnecessary delays by ensuring that the application is complete, and you can attach all necessary documentation to the renewal form. 

How Much Does a DACA Application Cost?

The application fee for DACA is $495. Cashier's checks, money orders, and personal checks are accepted. All of these checks must be made payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Never abbreviate the name, and don't send cash in the mail.

If you have issues with paying your application fee, there are some options. Some local immigration groups can offer assistance. You might even want to check with legal assistance organizations as well. 

What Happens After You Get Approved for DACA?

After your DACA has been approved, there are several essential points to keep in mind. You will have to renew your application. On a DACA status, you cannot travel outside of the United States. You need to be granted travel authorization from the government for employment, humanitarian, and educational purposes. 

With your DACA approval, you will not be detained or deported, and you may work lawfully in the United States. Plus, you can travel within the United States without any fear of legal consequences. However, DACA does not grant permanent citizenship in the United States.

Can You Claim Unemployment If You Have DACA?

Statue of Liberty during Daytime

DACA recipients are eligible for state unemployment benefits as long as their work authorization is valid. However, eligibility for unemployment benefits will vary from state to state. 

Be Patient With Your DACA 

For those with a current application, it is on hold due to legal challenges. If you have a renewal request and want to avoid any delays, make sure that the form is filled out correctly and all documents have been attached. Once you have approval, you can legally apply for work. 

However, DACA does not grant permanent citizenship. Reach out to an experienced Orange County and Irvine immigration lawyer for help, including assistance with obtaining a Green Card. With that, there are several steps to obtaining citizenship in the United States.

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