On January 13, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is accepting applications for renewal requests under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The USCIS action stems from a nationwide injunction issued by the federal district court judge in San Francisco on January 9, 2018 that prevents the Trump Administration from ending the DACA program on March 5, 2018 and orders the Administration to keep the DACA program in place until a final judgment is made on the underlying federal lawsuit.
According to the USCIS announcement, the DACA program will operate on the terms in place before the Trump Administration’s rescission of the program on September 5, 2017. However, USCIS will not accept applications from individuals who have never been granted DACA benefits before. Furthermore, USCIS will not accept or grant applications for advance parole from DACA recipients.
The announcement provides the following guidance on eligibility to file renewal requests for DACA:
Individuals who were previously granted DACA benefits, and whose DACA benefits expired on or after September 5, 2016 are eligible to file DACA renewal applications.
Individuals whose DACA benefits expired or were terminated prior to September 5, 2016, are eligible to apply for DACA but are required to file the application as a new initial DACA request.
At this time, it is unknown how long the USCIS will continue to accept renewal requests under the DACA program. More importantly, it is unclear when, and if, the DACA program will end. In response to the federal court injunction, the Trump Administration filed its notice of appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on January 16, 2018. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced this week that the Department of Justice will be requesting review on the merits of the injunction by the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to bypass the Ninth Circuit and to obtain a faster decision. Additionally, the President and Congress are trying to negotiate a compromise agreement on DACA legislation prior to the March 5, 2018 deadline.
Although the status of the DACA program remains uncertain, we encourage our clients who have employees authorized to work under the DACA program and whose DACA benefits are set to expire within the next 150 days to contact our office.
We will continue to monitor the federal litigation case and Congressional action, and will provide updates as more information becomes available.