How to Renew Your DACA in 2021

Latest Update September 27, 2021  New!

DACA Comment Period

On September 27th, the administration announced a public comment period on proposed rulemaking on the DACA program. It’ll be open for a comment period starting September 27th for 60 days. This is just a proposed rule. It is not final; no changes have been made to DACA today.

  • DACA is still valid
  • Renewals are still being accepted!
  • New applicants are not being accepted at the moment
  • The rule does not expand DACA for folks who never qualified.

Rulemaking is the process that federal agencies use when it wants to create, change, or delete rules that are used to carry out policy.

Once federal agencies have drafted language for a rule they then open it up to a 30-60 day comment period. Public comments are an important opportunity to have your voice heard. By submitting a public comment you can provide your thoughts on the proposed rule and influence the way the final rule is written. The government has to read every single comment that is submitted, by law.

Anyone can participate by submitting a comment, no matter their immigration status.

The proposed rule outlines the following changes to the DACA program.

  • Changes the application process. Individuals would request protection from deportation and would have the option to apply for work authorization. Instead of applying for both together, individuals could apply only for deportation protection, or could apply for work authorization after being approved for DACA.
    • DACA without work authorization ($85)
    • OR applying for DACA and work authorization ($495)
  • Clarifies who can apply for DACA and how. However, it does not expand eligibility from the 2012 memo.
  • Makes clear that DHS cannot share information from DACA applicants for immigration enforcement purposes except for cases involving fraud, national security and public safety.
  • Have your voice heard! HomeIsHere makes it easy to submit a comment, visit https://comment.homeishere.us/
  • Encourage others that support DACA in your community to comment
  • Share your story of how DACA has impacted you or those in your community

Everyone is welcome to comment, regardless of their immigration status!

Texas Court Ruling Update

On July 16, 2021, Texas federal court Judge Hanen published his opinion on the DACA case, which challenged the legality of the DACA policy. Judge Hanen’s opinion is that DACA is not a lawful policy, but for now will allow those with existing DACA -- and those whose DACA lapsed less than a year ago -- to continue to renew. No initial DACA requests will be processed at this time.  

USCIS Update Regarding COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS is reusing previously submitted biometrics in order to process work authorization applications (EADs) for DACA renewal requestors. For more information on USCIS reopenings or updates please visit the official USCIS website.

Things to Consider

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

Previously USCIS recommended that DACA recipients should file renewals between 150-120 days from their current DACA and EAD expiration. Though USCIS will no longer reject a renewal filing before the 150-day mark, it is our understanding that they will wait for the 150-day mark to begin processing the request.

If you received a 1-year work permit, your protections are automatically extended to two years. USCIS should have provided you with a notice stating that your DACA and EAD were extended to two years and that you would receive a new EAD no later than 30 days before the expiration date of your current EAD. If you have a 1-year work permit, you do not need to reapply to extend your DACA. If your EAD expires in less than 30 days and you have not yet received your new EAD, please contact NILC at [email protected] Learn more about the class action, which helped ensure a minimum of two year DACA and EAD validity, here.

If you are a DACA recipient that had interaction with law enforcement or ICE, you should consult an immigration attorney or a DOJ-accredited representative prior to submitting a renewal request.

USCIS filing fees for DACA renewals remain at $495.

When submitting your DACA renewal take in consideration processing delays with the USPS considering COVID-19 delays and other possible changes. If you’ve already filed your DACA renewal request and are seeing delays, visit “Steps to Take if Your DACA Renewal Is Delayed.” 

FAQ

As of June 16, 2021, USCIS will no longer process new DACA requests though they will receive them and hold them. Here is what they say: “USCIS is continuing to accept initial DACA requests. If you file an initial DACA request with USCIS on or after July 16, 2021, you will receive a receipt notice, and USCIS will process your payment. However, USCIS will not adjudicate your request while the court order remains in effect.”

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 request if your status expires within a year. USCIS is currently accepting renewal requests.

If it’s been less than a year since your DACA expired, then you can still file your renewal normally. Don’t let your DACA lapse.

If you had DACA but your DACA expired more than a year ago, you will need to file the renewal as if it were an initial filing. However, the Texas judge’s order does not allow USCIS to actually process any initial DACA requests, which includes someone who files an initial request because their DACA expired over a year ago. While USCIS has indicated it will accept initial DACA requests, it will not be able to process your filing. You should strongly consider talking to an attorney or DOJ-accredited representative and begin gathering your paperwork.

We understand that seeking assistance from a private attorney can be expensive for some. 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 determine if you might be able to apply for another type of immigration benefit. An attorney can also best help you make a decision about renewing based on your individual circumstances. 

Stay away from immigration “consultants” that are not licensed or accredited to provide you with immigration services. Check out this fraud prevention resource.

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.
    • Consider Mission Asset fund DACA Fee Assistance Program

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