The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is now accepting online renewal applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.
That’s the Barack Obama-era policy that gives some 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a work permit and temporary protection from deportation.
DACA recipients can apply to renew their status every two years, a process that costs almost $500. Up until now, that paperwork had to be mailed into the agency and getting a response could take months.
The option to file online is only available for individuals who have previously been granted DACA. Now they may file Form I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, online.
They must also file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, which is available for online filing, as well as the Form I-765 Worksheet, which is required as evidence in support of the filing for DACA.
To file Form I-821D and Form I-765 online, a DACA requestor must first create a USCIS online account, which provides a convenient and secure method to submit forms, pay fees and track the status of any pending USCIS immigration request throughout the adjudication process. There is no cost to set up an account, which offers a variety of features, including the ability to communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox and respond online to Requests for Evidence.
With the addition of online filing for Form I-821D, individuals can now file 13 USCIS forms online, which can all be found on the Forms Available to File Online page. USCIS continues to accept the latest paper versions of all forms by mail.
“The expansion of online filing is a priority for USCIS as we make our operations more efficient and effective for the agency and our stakeholders, applicants, petitioners and requestors,” said USCIS Director Ur M. Jaddou. “The option to file DACA renewal requests online is part of USCIS’ ongoing move to minimize reliance on paper records and further transition to an electronic environment.”
During fiscal year (FY) 2021, USCIS received more than 8.8 million requests for immigration benefits and other requests, including 438,950 Form I-821D DACA requests.
Since launching online filing in 2017, the overall number of forms filed online has increased significantly. In FY 2021, approximately 1,210,700 applications, petitions and requests were filed online, a 2.3% increase from the 1,184,000 filed in FY 2020.
Note, however, that DACA is still just a temporary status with no pathway to citizenship and the only long-term solution is from Congress.
The Homeland Security Department is expected to finalize proposed DACA regulations this year that the Biden administration hopes will bolster the program against court challenges. It’s unclear when those regulations will be issued.
Thirteen USCIS forms can now be submitted online, including the DACA application, the agency said. The agency also has expanded a credit card payment pilot program to cover most forms.
But USCIS still handles most applications on paper. An internal watchdog report last year found that USCIS’s reliance on paper documents limited the agency’s ability to process benefits, even after offices partially reopened amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.