Working Legally in the U.S. While Holding DACA Status
Following federal court orders in 2021, DACA renewal remains available, but USCIS is not granting initial requests as of July 16, 2021. This situation is subject to change, which will be reflected on the USCIS website.
One of the main benefits of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) is the work permit that comes with it. Your employer cannot discriminate against you because you are working under DACA protection. You should contact the Worker’s Immigrant and Employee Rights hotline at the Department of Justice if you believe that you are being mistreated based on your DACA status. Significant uncertainty surrounds the future of DACA, though, so your employer may have honest questions about the status of your employment authorization. For example, they may want to know whether your DACA status will expire sooner than expected.
Contact the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section
An individual who believes that their employer is discriminating against them because of their DACA status may contact the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the DOJ at 1-800-255-7688 (TDD: 1-800-237-2515).
Telling Your Employer About Your DACA Status
Your employer does not have a right to know about your immigration status, and you probably should not disclose this information unless your employer asks. In particular, you are not required to tell your employer that your work permit is based on DACA. If your employer does ask, you should be honest about your status, while bearing in mind that you have legal recourse if your employer fires you or otherwise discriminates against you on this basis. If the employer asks you follow-up questions about how DACA works, you can advise them to explore the USCIS website for more information.
In some cases, an employer already will know that an employee has DACA protection. It may have looked at the code on their employment authorization document (EAD) when they were hired.
You should be aware that you can work as long as your EAD card remains valid. In other words, you can work until the expiration date of your DACA status. You can get your EAD card extended if you successfully renew your DACA status. However, you may go through a gap in your authorization to work because you cannot get an automatic EAD extension based on your DACA renewal application. The EAD card thus may expire before you receive your DACA renewal. This will result in only a temporary interruption in your ability to work, though.
Showing Your Work Authorization Card to Your Employer
When a foreign national first starts working for a new employer, the employer will ask them for certain documents related to their immigration status. This will allow the employer to check the employee’s identity and authorization to work in the U.S. (The EAD card establishes both of these points.) You need to present these documents only once unless certain circumstances apply. Any further requests by the employer constitute “reverification.”
There may be times when it is appropriate for an employer to reverify an employee’s work authorization, such as when its records reflect that the work authorization will expire.
An employer may seek reverification on the date when its records show that a foreign national employee’s authorization to work expires. Reverification will assure the employer that the foreign national employee still is allowed to work in the U.S. You can use your new EAD card for this purpose. If you change your name, the employer may ask to see your documents again to establish proof of your identity. However, you do not need to show the employer your new EAD card or other proof of authorization until the employer asks. Any reverification by an employer in other circumstances may be unlawful discrimination, and you may be able to take legal action against the employer. You can consult an attorney for guidance on the types of claims that you may be able to bring.