by Sindy Nanclares,
It’s a chore. But Henry Bravo understands he must reapply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program every two years if he wants to keep his deferral grant. And for many DACA recipients, the moment to renew has arrived. The first two-year period ended, and there’s a narrow window to reapply.
Henry feels grateful for the Obama administration program, started in August 2012, that gave him and more than 500,000 undocumented young people a chance to live a close-to-normal life. But the law requires that everyone who received DACA approval reapply at the end of two years. The U.S. Immigrant and Citizenship Service (USCIS) gives you four months to submit your application and a one-month grace period.
Nick Katz, staff attorney for the New York activist group Make the Road, says, “If your application is pending (after it expires) you may be out of legal status for a couple of weeks, or even months. And if you continue to work it would have negative consequences in the future.”
Listening to 26-year-old Henry tell his story, you get a feel for how hard and frightening life was for him before DACA went into effect, and how essential it is for him to hold on to his legal status.
Henry left Ecuador when he was 13 and came to New York by himself. He imagined he’d go to school and make his dreams come true in America. Instead, without parents or a support system, he needed to work to pay for food and a place to live. He bounced from one short-term job to another and couldn’t complain when employers took advantage and paid low wages. “Sometimes I would work more than 60 hours, but they would only pay me for 45,” he recalled.
Every young person may share a different story, but all who signed up for DACA need to keep an eye on their own status and the renewal clock that ticks away.
RENEWAL FEE HELP
Renewal requires another $465 processing fee. In New York City, the more than 250,000 DACA approved young people can find help to pay the fee. The NYC DREAMer Loan Fund offers a loan with zero percent interest and monthly payments as low as $38.75.
So go ahead and reapply!
Follow the USCIS guidelines to make sure you keep your benefit.
The process is very simple:
Complete and mail the renewal form along with the application fee. You don’t need additional documentation about education or anything else because you submitted it with the original application.
Make the Road immigration coordinator Yenny Quispel told us, “As of now, I haven’t heard of anyone who has not gotten approved.”
And Henry Bravo expects, when his time comes, he’ll get quick approval. But he looks beyond the temporary to permanent legal status that allows him to join the Marines.