International Student Immigration Issues #6: FAQs about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

In our continuing series about international student immigration issues, our guest blogger, immigration and naturalization attorney Laurie Woog, provides answers to your most frequently asked questions about the recent changes to immigration policy otherwise known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  Undocumented students  wishing to apply to college should take note!  The policy change will have definite implications for your college options.  This is the first blog in a series of two that will cover DACA policy.

What is “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?”

Through this new policy, announced on June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security will allow certain undocumented youth who did not intentionally violate immigration laws to live and work temporarily in the United States.  These young people  were brought to the United States as children by their parents and would benefit from provisions of the DREAM Act, if it were passed.   Therefore, those who can apply for deferred action now are frequently referred to as “DREAMers.”

What are the requirements for deferred action? 

You must be at least 15 years of age in most cases and prove that you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, or are an honorably discharged veteran; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

What are the benefits of deferred action?

If you receive an approval and work authorization you may be able to improve your job prospects, obtain a social security number, obtain a driver’s license, enroll in college, and receive financial aid, among other things.

Does deferred action provide me with a path to permanent residence status or citizenship?

No. Deferred action means you will not be placed in removal proceedings because the government considers you to be a low enforcement priority.  It does not confer lawful status or give you a path to citizenship.  Furthermore, although DACA currently provides for the possibility of an extension or renewal after two years, it is not clear whether the program would be continued if a new federal administration is elected in November, 2012.


What if I left the United States briefly at one point?  Can I still apply?

If you were absent from the United States for any period of time, your absence will be considered brief, casual, and innocent, if it was before August 15, 2012 and meets several other criteria.

How do I apply for deferred action?

You must submit three forms, Form I-821D, Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, and Form I-765WS, Income and Expenses worksheet.  You must also submit documentation that proves you qualify for deferred action, and the correct filing fee ($465).  Make sure that you send the application package to the correct office by checking the information on filing addresses at  You must be careful to keep a copy of everything that you submit to USCIS, and send your package via certified mail or another method you can track.

Laurie Woog

The Woog Law Office, LLC

Practice Devoted to Immigration and Naturalization Law


Blog post brought to you by:

Andrea Aronson

College Admissions Specialist 

Westfield, NJ

Published by Andrea Aronson

Leading our New Jersey office and based in Westfield, NJ, Andrea Aronson holds an MBA from the Wharton School and a certificate in college counseling from UCLA. As a marketing expert, she assists all students in presenting themselves in the best possible light.

Join the Conversation


  1. hello, will i be considered for the deffered action for childhood arrival if i came here two months after my 16th birthday? i have been in the U.S for 7 years. And also, does this mean students who have the DACA will be considered for financial aid or student loans? i have already applied for DACA and hoping for the best results. anyway i hope to hear a response from you soon. thank you.

  2. Pat,
    I checked with our very knowledgable immigration and naturalization attorney, Laurie Woog, about your question on DACA, and here is her response:

    The USCIS indicates on its website that an applicant for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) must have arrived in the United States prior to his or her 16th birthday. Therefore, while each case is addressed on an individual basis, it appears unlikely that USCIS would approve a case for someone who arrived after the required date. With respect to financial aid, while federal financial aid programs and most state programs would still be off limits for Deferred Action students, there may be some private options or bank loans that are now accessible with a social security number. In addition, some states may decide to offer in-state tuition rates for DACA students, although other states are establishing measures that guarantee the opposite.

    We wish you the best of luck with your DACA application and will keep our fingers crossed for you for a positive outcome.


  3. Hi Pat what happened with your application? Did USCIS consider you for DACA? I know someone who is in the same situation as yours. Please provide some input.

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