When Foreign Nationals May Be Legally Eligible For DACA
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 requirements for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) relates to the educational status of the applicant. Unless they are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard, they must be able to show that they are currently in school or have graduated from high school or received a certificate of completion or a general education development certificate (GED). You will need to determine whether your program meets the DACA requirement before you apply. Alternatively, if you are not currently enrolled in school but meet the other DACA requirements, you may become eligible for DACA if you enroll in a qualifying program before you apply.
An individual may become eligible for DACA by enrolling in a qualifying educational program.
A current school or program that you are attending will qualify for DACA if it is an elementary school, junior high school, or high school, regardless of whether the school is public or private. It also will qualify if it is an English as a second language (ESL) program that serves as a prerequisite for further education, training, or employment that you will seek after completing the program. Certain programs that help students get a high school diploma or a GED may qualify if they are funded by government grants or if they have a strong reputation with a track record of success. A DACA applicant also may meet this requirement if they are attending an educational, literacy, vocational, or career training program that is funded by government money or has a strong reputation, and the program is designed to help the applicant get post-secondary education, job training, or employment of a type that they are pursuing.
Proving Enrollment in School
You will need to provide official documents to show that you are enrolled in a qualifying program. These may include transcripts, your acceptance letter, and a letter from the school describing your program and your dates of attendance. If you are attending a program for which government funding or a strong reputation is part of the requirement, you will need to provide evidence of the government funding or the institution’s reputation. You cannot meet the school requirement by simply submitting an affidavit from someone else who states that you are attending a certain school. Even though an affidavit is submitted under oath, USCIS will not find this evidence decisive.
Applying During a Break in an Educational Program
Sometimes a foreign national will apply for DACA during a regular break in the program that they are attending, such as a summer vacation. Applying during a break does not affect your eligibility if you are still in good standing at the program, and you are expected to return after the break. If you need to apply for DACA before starting a program to which you have been admitted, you may be able to submit your acceptance letter and proof of your deposit to show that you are enrolled. If you need to apply during a break in the program, you can provide documentation of the coursework that you have completed and your enrollment in the next period of the program.
An individual applying for DACA during a break in their educational program will likely need to supply evidence that the program expects them to return.
In other cases, a student will need to take a break from an educational program for personal reasons, such as caring for a family member with a serious illness. You may face more challenges if you apply for DACA during this type of break. However, you still may be able to meet the requirement if you can explain why you are taking the break and provide evidence that the program expects you to return.