Following federal court orders in 2018, DACA renewal remains available, but foreign nationals cannot file first-time DACA applications. This situation is subject to change.
If you are applying to renew your DACA status, you may be asked to attend a biometrics appointment as part of your application. This involves providing your fingerprints to be processed by the government. You likely do not need an attorney to attend the biometrics appointment with you. Many foreign nationals feel concerned about going to the biometrics appointment because they worry about ICE arresting them and placing them in removal proceedings. However, there have been no reports of arrests at biometrics appointments. Arrests occasionally may happen when a foreign national with an outstanding removal order appears at a USCIS interview or an ICE office, but this situation is different.
A biometrics appointment usually lasts 10 minutes or less, excluding waiting time. The foreign national will get their photograph taken at the application support center, sign their name, and provide their fingerprints. USCIS uses the information from the appointment to check the criminal record of the foreign national, which is an essential part of reviewing their application. Application support centers may or may not be located in the same building as other immigration agencies. Employees of application support centers are not equipped to answer questions about the immigration process or discuss the details of your case.
When an Attorney Can Help
If your case involves special concerns, you may want to talk to an attorney before going to your biometrics appointment. The attorney can alleviate your concerns or warn you about any risks. This is especially helpful if you prepared your own application. Consulting an attorney can help you make sure that you still meet the eligibility requirements for DACA. If you likely do not meet them anymore, you may not want to attend the biometrics appointment so that the U.S. government does not receive information from it.
Foreign nationals who may benefit from an attorney’s advice include those who previously held DACA but allowed it to expire before pursuing a renewal. You also may want to ask an attorney about your options if you were charged with a crime, or even if you were arrested, since the last time that you received DACA approval. Foreign nationals who have a criminal record or who allowed their status to lapse may face higher risks in any interactions with immigration enforcement agencies. Another potentially high-risk group consists of foreign nationals who previously received DACA protection but were later placed in removal proceedings or were subject to an order of removal or voluntary departure.
An attorney probably will not provide much assistance at the biometrics appointment. They can record any hostile interactions with immigration enforcement and report them to USCIS, and they can get information about where you are detained in the very unlikely event that you are taken into ICE custody. In general, though, an attorney makes a much greater difference during the process of preparing the application. You should tell an attorney who worked on your application about the time and location of your biometrics appointment. If you did not consult an attorney, you can tell a friend or family member who has legal status in the U.S. They can warn you about any problems that may arise before your appointment date.