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First-Time DACA Applicants

Dear UC Merced Scholar,

On Friday, December 4, 2020, Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn instructed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to post a public notice by Monday, December 7, 2020 that states the department will accept and adjudicate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) petitions from immigrants who qualify for the program but are not currently enrolled in it.

For current DACA recipients, Judge Garaufis also instructed officials to grant approved applicants work permits that last for two years, instead of the one-year period proposed by the Trump administration over the summer.

Judge Garaufis' order also means DHS will be required to administer DACA under the policies in place when President Barack Obama created the program in 2012. This would also allow current enrollees to request "advance parole," which allows them to travel abroad and return to the U.S.

Friday’s ruling gives us all cause to celebrate and give thanks!

I would like to review with you the criteria for eligibility for DACA. Applicants must meet the following major requirements, although meeting them does not guarantee approval:

  • Have unlawful presence in United States after entering the country before their 16th birthday
  • Have lived continuously in the United States since June 15, 2007
  • Were under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (born on June 16, 1981 or after)
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making their request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
  • Have completed high school or a GED, have been honorably discharged from the armed forces, or are enrolled in school
  • Have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanors, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

To show proof of qualification (verify these requirements), applicants must submit three forms; I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals; I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and I-765WS Worksheet, as well as supporting documentation. These forms and instructions are available on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Again, Advance Parole may again allow DACA recipients to travel outside the United States and return. However, details of this possibility are still unclear, and the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may limit the ability to travel. And, as of this afternoon DHS has not updated their website after Friday’s ruling.

We advise that first-time applicants consult with our attorney, Carolina Castañeda, to better understand the process as well as assist you in submitting your DACA application. We still encourage current DACA recipients to submit their renewals within 365 days of the expiration date of their work their authorization.

As a scholar at the University of California you and your immediate family are eligible to utilize the free legal services offered by the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center for any matters related to immigration. For assistance with DACA first-time applications and DACA renewals, please contact Carolina Castañeda. Carolina can be contacted at All other immigration related needs can be addressed by UC Immigrant Legal Services Center attorney Rachel Ray, her email is

The UC Merced Office for Services for Undocumented Students continues its commitment to serving and supporting our scholars and their families through our program and services. This includes assistance with DACA application or renewal fees. We encourage you to visit our website. Should you or your family have any questions or concerns, please feel to contact our staff at

In solidarity,

Alejandro S. Delgadillo
Associate Director for Educational Equity and Access
Calvin E. Bright Success Center
UC Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343
(209) 228-4625 (direct line)
(209) 626-9078 (cell)