Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) allows eligible immigrant youth to get two-year renewable work permits. It also provides protection from removal proceedings. DACA has faced many legal challenges over the past five years. The Trump Administration tried to end the program, but a U.S. Supreme Court decision prevented that. Even so, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was only accepting and processing DACA renewals. While President Biden signed an executive order to reinstate the program fully — allowing both new applications and renewals — a judge ruled in favor of a group of Texas attorney generals who argued that DACA is unconstitutional. As a result, USCIS is accepting renewals but no longer processing new DACA applications. This means only immigrants who have received DACA in the past are still eligible to renew their status. Renewing your DACA status and work permit costs $495 and takes 6-12 months. This guide explains everything you need to know about renewing your DACA status.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Written May 25, 2022
Can I Renew My DACA Status?
You are eligible to renew your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and employment authorization if all of the following are true:
You have DACA or have had it in the past. People who have never applied for DACA cannot apply now.
Your DACA expiration date wasn't more than one year ago. If your DACA expired more than one year ago, you will have to submit a new DACA application.
Your current DACA expiration date isn't more than one year from now.
You didn’t leave the United States since your initial application for DACA without getting Advance Parole.
You have lived in the United States continuously since your most recent approved DACA application.
You have never been charged with a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or several smaller misdemeanors.
How To Renew Your DACA and Work Permit: A Step-By-Step Guide)
Once you confirm that you qualify to renew your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grant, you can begin working on the renewal process. You may be able to do this using our free web app. You’ll need your old DACA paperwork, the most current versions of the DACA forms, passport pictures, and the government fees to file your DACA renewal.
Step 1: Find Your Most Recent Renewal Paperwork
You will use this as a guide to complete your new DACA renewal forms. You can cross-reference your old and new paperwork to make sure that the information is consistent. If you are using our free web app, you can easily answer the questions using the information from your previous DACA renewal. If this is your first time renewing your status, you can also use your paperwork from your first DACA application.
Step 2: Get the Forms You’ll Need
If you use the free ImmigrationHelp.org app to prepare your paperwork, we will provide you with the forms you need. If you decide to go it alone, you should download the most current DACA and work permit forms directly from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)’s website. USCIS may reject your application if you use wrong or outdated forms.
A completed DACA renewal application needs to include these forms:
Step 3: Fill Out the Forms
If you use our free DACA renewal app to prepare your paperwork, we will help you make sure that your Forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS are good to go. If you complete the forms without our help, make sure that you read the instructions carefully. You should check your responses against your previous renewal filing to make sure that the information is consistent.
It is a good idea to fill out the forms on a computer, phone, or tablet so that your answers are easy to read. If you fill the forms out by hand, make sure that you write legibly with a black pen.
Step 4: Write a Cover Letter
A cover letter tells USCIS who you are, what you are applying for, and what items you have included in your application packet. This helps the USCIS officer easily see what they are about to review and avoid overlooking anything.
Step 5: Get Your Passport Photo Taken
You will need to include two passport photos taken within 30 days of the day you file your Form I-765. Many pharmacies, post offices, and FedEx and UPS stores will take passport photos for a small fee.
Step 6: Pay the Filing Fees
USCIS does not accept cash, so you will need to pay the $495 filing fee with a money order or by credit card. You can get a money order from most banks and post offices as well as from many grocery stores. The money order should be for exactly $495 and made out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use abbreviations like “DHS.” If you do, USCIS will not receive your payment and will send your application back to you.
If you choose to pay by credit card, you will need to include a completed Form G-1450 with your application paperwork.
Step 7: Make a Copy of Everything
This includes your money order and all supporting documents, as well as any receipt for mailing your paperwork. Keep these copies in a safe place in case you need to refer to them in the future.
Step 8: Assemble Your Renewal Packet
We recommend that you assemble your packet in the following order to make it easier for USCIS to review:
Money order or Form G-1450
Form G-1145 (if you choose to submit it)
A copy of the front and back of your current employment authorization document
Copies of any supporting documents
Do not staple the items in your packet together. Staples make it harder for USCIS to review everything. Use paper clips instead.
Step 9: Mail Your Renewal Packet to USCIS
After reviewing and double-checking your DACA renewal application packet, you are ready to send it to USCIS! USCIS has a quick reference guide that will show you where to send your renewal request based on your location. Use a mail service that includes a tracking number. The USPS Priority Mail flat-rate envelope is a great option.
If you have been arrested since your last approved DACA renewal, you should speak with an attorney before you submit your renewal packet.
Step 10: Attend Your Biometrics Appointment
After you submit your DACA renewal, you will need to attend a biometrics appointment (photo and fingerprinting). USCIS will usually schedule your biometrics appointment for 6-8 weeks after you submit your paperwork. The purpose of this appointment is to ensure you do not have a serious criminal record or any relevant prior immigration violations.
Step 11: Receive Your New DACA and Employment Authorization Card
You should receive your DACA approval notice and work authorization card 6-12 months after you send in your completed renewal packet!
What Is the DACA Renewal Timeline?
A typical Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal takes 6-12 months. During that time, USCIS will send a variety of notices about your application to the mailing address that you provided on your paperwork. Most people who apply to renew their DACA and employment authorization receive the following notices in order.
You Get a Receipt Notice (2-3 weeks After You File)
USCIS typically sends a receipt notice 2-3 weeks after it receives your application. This notice will contain a unique code called a receipt number that consists of three letters and 10 numbers, such as ABC1234567891. You can use this code to track the status of your application here.
You Get a Biometrics Appointment Notice (4-6 Weeks After You File)
As part of the DACA process, you will need to attend a biometrics (photo and fingerprinting) appointment. USCIS will schedule this appointment and send you notice of the date, time, and location 4-6 weeks after you file your application. The appointment will usually occur 6-8 weeks after you file.
You Get a DACA Approval Notice (5-10 Months After You File)
If all goes well, USCIS will approve your Form I-821D and send you an approval letter 5-10 months after you file your application.
You Get a Employment Authorization Card (6-12 Months After You File)
After USCIS approves your Form I-821D, they will process your Form I-765 within about 90 days. You should receive your new employment authorization card 6-12 months after you file your application. Contact USCIS if you haven't received any notices 105 days after filing your application.
When Should I Renew My DACA?
Your renewed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and employment authorization will expire two years after USCIS approves your renewal request. This means that you may lose a bit of time on your new status if you apply more than 120 days before your current DACA expires.
It takes a long time for USCIS to process DACA renewal requests, and the future of DACA is uncertain. So, many people are submitting their renewals earlier than usual. You should submit your renewal application when you feel comfortable doing so.
How Much Does It Cost To Renew DACA?
When you submit your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal package, you will have to pay two fees for a total of $495:
$410 for your employment authorization
$85 for your biometrics (photo and fingerprinting)
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services uses these fees to process your renewal application. Without these fees, USCIS will return your application documents to you without processing them.
How Can I Get Help Paying for My DACA Renewal?
Many DACA recipients have a hard time affording their DACA grant renewal. Every DACA renewal applicant needs to pay USCIS fees, and if you get a lawyer’s assistance with your case, you’ll have to pay them in addition. Here are some tips for how to raise the money for both lawyer fees and USCIS fees.
Getting Help With Lawyer Fees
If you don’t have a criminal record, you can prepare your renewal forms yourself. DACA renewal is expensive enough without having to pay an attorney to help you. So we at ImmigrationHelp.org worked with immigration attorneys to build a free app that will help you prepare your DACA paperwork for free. It produces all the required paperwork. You will only need to pay the USCIS filing fees and not the $500+ that lawyers often charge. We’ll even review your forms and supporting documents for you, for free, when you’ve completed the app!
Getting Help With USCIS Fees
You can ask people in your circle and in organizations you’re a member of for help with paying your USCIS fees. Consider doing any of the following:
Start a personal fundraising page on GoFundMe. They have resources to help DACA recipients crowd-fund for renewal fees.
Send letters and emails to select friends or family members asking for help.
Instead of gifts for your birthday, ask for money to help you pay for your DACA renewal.
Ask your employer to pay your renewal fee. Helping you keep your status helps them keep you as an employee. Hiring a new employee to replace you if you lose status will likely cost them much more than the $495 it would cost them to help you renew.
If you are a member of a church or other faith group, reach out to them. They may be willing to help you!
Many colleges have programs to help Dreamers. If you are a college or university student, contact your financial aid office to ask if they can help you.
Apply for the Voto Latino pro bono “UndocuNeighbor” initiative.
Apply for the United We Dream DACA renewal fund.