To transition further away from paper-based operations, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration and Services (USCIS) announced Tuesday, April 12, that those who previously received deferred action (i.e., protection from deportation) under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may now file their DACA renewal forms online (see USCIS News Release here). This announcement is welcome news for DACA recipients, commonly known as “Dreamers,” who until now could only file their DACA renewal forms by mail.

Please note, however, that as of now, the new online filing option only applies to Dreamers who seek to renew their DACA status. Individuals filing an initial request for DACA protection must still apply by mail at one of the Service centers listed here. This article outlines the procedure for filing the DACA renewal forms online and discusses the advantages of applying online versus by mail.

Pursuant to the court order issued in State of Texas, et al., v. United States of America, et al., 1:18-CV-00068 (S.D. Tex. July 16, 2021), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does continue to accept the filing of both initial and renewal DACA requests, as well as accompanying requests for employment authorization. Under the July 16, 2021 order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, DHS is prohibited from granting initial DACA requests.

Procedure for Filing Online

Individuals seeking to renew their DACA status online must first create a USCIS online account here. After creating an account, applicants should select “File a Form” and choose the form “I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)” from the dropdown menu. Please note that applicants filing Form I-821D must also file Form I-765 (Application for Work Authorization) and Form I-765 Worksheet, which can also be filed online with Form I-821D. After filling out each form, applicants must pay the filing fees and submit their applications. Upon filing the application, applicants should receive a receipt notice. Applicants can track the status of their application online using the receipt number provided in the notice (see USCIS Case Status Online here).

Advantages of Applying Online

There are several advantages to filing the DACA renewal forms online.

  • For most applicants, applying online is much simpler, faster, and convenient than paper filing. The website provides step-by-step instructions that applicants can follow until their application is complete and submitted, and applicants do not have to go through the burden of printing all of the forms and evidence and mailing it to the correct USCIS address.
  • Filing online reduces the risk that USCIS will reject the application due to a clerical mistake, such as forgetting to check a required box or mailing the petition to the wrong service center. An applicant cannot submit the application without completing all of the required fields, and filing online eliminates the need to mail the petition to a designated service center.
  • USCIS receives the petition almost immediately after the applicant submits the petition (barring any technical difficulties). This immediate receipt is very advantageous, especially for those filing their renewal application at the last minute. It is important to remember that USCIS will not allow applicants to renew their DACA status beyond one year after its expiration. These late applicants must instead file new initial requests for DACA protection. Now, however, last-minute applicants have the option to submit their application on time, potentially using the new online filing option.

Conclusion

We hope this discussion provides a helpful overview of USCIS’s new online filing option for DACA renewals and the advantages it gives Dreamers seeking to timely renew their DACA status. Should you have any questions or would like to review other forms foreign nationals can file online, please visit USCIS’s website here.

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Immigration Law

About the Author

Paxton D. Endres is an Associate in Dickinson Wright’s Phoenix office where he practices Immigration and Family Law. Paxton can be reached at 602-285-5090 or pendres@dickinsonwright.com and you can view his bio here.