What New Jersey’s Undocumented Youth Need to Know About DACA Renewal

If you let your driver’s license expire, you have to go through the rigmarole of taking the written and driving test, plus pay the fee. Young immigrants enjoying DACA status face the same sort of obstacles if they don’t pay attention to recently published rules for retaining their status.

Almost two years ago, undocumented youth who met certain requirements were granted deferred action against deportation and work authorization for a period of two years through a federal policy directive known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In New Jersey, 15,681 young people have been approved under DACA, a little more than half (55 percent) of the estimated 28,500 potential beneficiaries.

The federal government recently released the renewal application for DACA. Those who have already received DACA status (now known as “DACAmented” youth) must submit all required forms and documentation at least 120 days before, but not more than 150 days before, their DACA expiration date to ensure they do not lose work authorization and potentially face deportation. For instance, if a person’s DACA status ends October 31, 2014, she would have to apply between June 3 and July 3. These young people will also have to pay $465 in fees and undergo another background check.

Who qualifies for renewal?

Beneficiaries who were awarded deferred action for a period of two years qualify for renewal if they:

• Have not been convicted of a felony or three misdemeanors

• Did not leave the country on or after August 15, 2012

• Have continuously resided in United States since their DACA request was approved

What happens to those who don’t renew during the right time window?

If the DACAmented individual does not file for renewal during the prescribed window, they can still apply for up to one year after their status expires. However, during this interval they will have lost their DACA status and work authorization. After one year, the renewal option disappears and a person would have to resubmit an initial application with all of its more detailed documentation requirements (and, possibly, higher fees for legal assistance).