How to Renew Your DACA in 2020

USCIS Update Regarding COVID-19

There is a lot of confusion about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic might affect immigration policy. As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has suspended all biometrics appointments until May 4th. If you are a DACA recipient, your renewal application may be affected by this change. The best way to calm fears is to remain informed, read our guidance on what this may mean for your DACA renewal application, click here.

DACA at the Supreme Court

On November 12th, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments on three consolidated Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) cases. The hearing came after the Department of Justice (DOJ) requested to fast-track the three cases that were pending at the lower federal courts (New York, Washington, D.C., and California) in order for them to be heard at the Supreme Court level.

 

A Decision Can Come Any Day

Now that SCOTUS has heard oral arguments, we are expecting a decision any time between now and June of 2020, when SCOTUS usually ends its term to break for the summer. A decision could potentially end DACA renewals. We don’t know when exactly the Court will announce its decision or what that decision will be, but what we do know for certain is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is still accepting DACA renewals. 

Due to the uncertainty of the SCOTUS decision and its impact on current DACA renewal requests, we encourage DACA recipients to stay informed, consider speaking with an immigration attorney or DOJ-accredited representative, and consider submitting your renewal application very soon, especially if your DACA expires in 2020.

To learn more about what to consider when deciding to renew, read “Know Your Power. Consider Renewing Your DACA Today,” prepared by the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). In deciding when to renew, we recommend that you consider NILC’s “Frequently Asked Questions: USCIS is Accepting DACA Renewal Applications.”

We know this can be overwhelming but some things to also keep in mind while you consider renewing: 

USCIS fees to renew your DACA might change soon. On November 14th, 2019, the Administration proposed a new rule that would allow an increase in USCIS filing fees, and extended the time frame on January 24, 2020, for which the public can comment, until February 10, 2020.  The proposed rule would increase the cost of renewing DACA and the related employment authorization document to $765, in comparison to the present $495. However, USCIS must still review all of the public comments before finalizing the rule, so the fee increase has not yet taken effect and there’s still time to renew with the current fee. 

There are reports of delays in DACA renewal filing processing times, and a pending lawsuit in response to such delays for DACA recipients. You should take this into account when making a decision whether– and when– to renew. As of right now, there are three USCIS service centers processing DACA renewal cases and processing times vary among each center. On average, the current wait time can take anywhere from five to seven months to process and issue renewed DACA and the related work permit.

If you’ve already filed your DACA renewal request and are seeing delays, visit “Steps to Take if Your DACA Renewal Is Delayed.” 

How to Fund Your Renewal

Paying for the DACA and work permit renewal fee of $495 can be a barrier when deciding to renew. Take a look at some recommended financial resources and advice we adapted from our friends at the HomeIsHere campaign: 

  • Find help locally
  • Personal Fundraising
    • Start a personal fundraising page on GoFundMe, which launched an effort to help DACA recipients crowd fund for renewal fees.
    • Send letters and emails to select friends or family members. Template here.
    • Instead of gifts for your birthday, ask for money to help you pay for the renewal request. 
  • Institutional help
    • Talk to your employer and ask if they can cover the cost of your renewal fee to minimize the risk that your employment would be disrupted while awaiting a decision on your DACA and work permit renewal.
    • If you are a member of a faith group, reach out to your house of worship; they may be willing to help.
    • If you are a college or university student contact your Diversity & Inclusion, Dream Center, or financial aid office for emergency assistance programs. 
    • Apply to the Voto Latino pro bono project with King & Spalding LLP UndocuNeighbor initiative. 
    • Apply to the United We Dream DACA renewal fund.

Renewal Step-by-Step Guide

With Guidance from “How To Easily Renew Your DACA” created by United We Dream

The following information will help you prepare your filing, but should not be considered as legal advice and should not replace legal advice from an attorney or certified representative. Everyone’s case is different, which is why we strongly urge you to consider seeking out assistance from local non-profit organizations that provide free to low cost legal assistance. 

1. Find a renewal clinic, accredited rep., or immigration attorney who can assist you with your filing.

2. Find your previous renewal filing and use it as a guide as you complete your new renewal filing. You can cross-reference your old and new filings to ensure the information is consistent.

3. Make sure to download the correct and most current DACA request and work permit forms directly from USCIS. If a form is out of date, USCIS may reject your filing.
You will need to download and complete the following forms: 

4. Accurately fill out all forms. Remember to read all instructions on the forms thoroughly, and to double check your responses with the responses you included in your previous renewal filing so that the information is consistent. It is recommended that you fill out the forms digitally to make sure all information is readable. If you are filling them out by hand, make sure you write clearly with a black pen.

5. Create a cover letter. A cover letter includes a checklist of the items in the filing to help the USCIS officer easily see what they are about to review. Check out UWD’s cover letter template as a starting point.

    • Get your passport photo taken to include with the I-765 form, you will need two passport photos.

6. Purchase your money order from your local U.S. Post Office or bank—we strongly advise using a money order because USCIS does not accept cash. The money order should be for $495 and made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” (do not use abbreviations like “DHS”). The $495 covers the biometric (fingerprint) and processing fees.

7. Photocopy your entire filing, including your money order and all supporting documentation, as well as any receipt for mailing your filing, and keep the copy in a safe place.

8. Package and send your DACA renewal filing. We recommend that your renewal packet be in the following order to make it easier for review:

  • $495 Money Order
  • Cover Letter
  • Completed Form G-1145
  • Completed Form I-821D
  • Completed Form I-765
    • Two passport photos- taken within 30 days of your filing
    • Copy of the front and back of your currently employment authorization document
  • Completed Form I-765WS
  • Copies of any supporting documentation.

Where should you send your renewal request? This depends on your location. USCIS has a quick reference guide on where to send your renewal request based on your location.

Tip: Do not staple your request together. This makes it harder for the review process and your filing could even be rejected by USCIS. Instead, use paper clips.

Tip: We also strongly advise that you mail using priority shipping that includes a tracking number. The USPS’ Priority Mail flat-rate envelopes are perfect for this.

After reviewing and double-checking your renewal filing for accuracy, and ideally upon final review by an attorney or legal representative, you are ready to send.

**IF you were arrested between your last DACA grant and now, you MUST go see an attorney before submitting your filing.**

Find a DACA Renewal Clinic Near You

FAQ

Unfortunately, at this time, no first-time DACA applications are being accepted, so if you were never approved for DACA, you cannot apply now.

If you are eligible to renew your DACA, you should strongly consider gathering your paperwork, talking to an attorney or DOJ-accredited representative, and submitting your renewal application if your status expires within a year. USCIS is currently accepting renewal applications but it is uncertain how long the agency will continue doing so.

If you had DACA but your DACA expired more than a year ago, you can still renew but will need to file the renewal as if it were an initial application. You should strongly consider talking to an attorney or DOJ-accredited representative and begin gathering your paperwork. If it’s been less than a year since your DACA expired, then you can still file your renewal normally.

A decision from the Supreme court can be announced any time between now and June. It may make sense to renew your DACA now ahead of a court decision.

We understand that seeking assistance from a private attorney can be expensive for some people. We recommend you find help from non-profit organizations that provide free to low cost legal assistance. An attorney at either a private firm or at a non-profit can ask you questions that will help them determine if you might be able to apply for another type of immigration status. An attorney can also best help you make a decision about renewing based on your individual circumstances.