Stressed About Your DACA Renewal? Here Are Some Steps You Can Take
THE TORCH: CONTENTSBy NILC staff
AUGUST 11, 2016
Jobs are stressful enough as it is—pressure to perform, difficult bosses, not getting paid enough, and the constant worry of getting laid off and not being able to pay the bills. The last thing any worker needs is one more worry, but that, unfortunately, is exactly what many DACA recipients are facing right now.
This is because there have been delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS’s) Nebraska Service Center—one of four USCIS service centers—in processing renewal applications for DACA and the work permits that allow DACA recipients to work legally in the U.S. Though USCIS recommends that DACA recipients apply for renewal 120 to 150 days before their work permits expire, currently it’s taking the Nebraska Service Center about 180 days, or six months, to process renewal applications.
We here at the National Immigration Law Center have raised this issue with USCIS officials, and we’ve been told that the Nebraska Service Center is working to quickly address the problem and speed up processing times. However, we understand this is little comfort to someone who is on the verge of losing their job if that new employment authorization document (EAD) doesn’t arrive in time. Being able to care for a new baby or other family members, holding on to workplace health insurance to treat a chronic illness—no one should have to fear losing their ability to make ends meet because of a bureaucratic delay.
So here are a few tips for what to do if your DACA renewal is delayed:
Check your case’s status online. You can monitor your case’s status by using USCIS’s online “My Case Status” tool, at https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard/CaseStatus.do. You will need to enter the receipt number for either your DACA application or your employment authorization (work permit) application. (You should have received a receipt for each application after you submitted your DACA renewal application.) Even though you haven’t yet received your new EAD in the mail, USCIS’s online case status tool may show that your renewal application has already been approved. So we recommend that you check your case’s status online regularly.
Check out our DACA page. Our NILC DACA webpage links to a lot of information about DACA, including about issues that come up when applying for the first time and applying to renew. There’s also a more detailed guide on steps to take if your renewal is delayed. It’s a PDF, so print it and share it!
Apply early. USCIS generally takes four to five months to process DACA renewal applications, but, as we’ve seen with the Nebraska Service Center delays, it can end up taking more like six months. Previously, USCIS did not accept renewal applications submitted more than 150 days before the expiration date on the applicant’s EAD, but that is no longer the case. So if you can, apply early—at least 150 days before your permit expires. Perhaps consider applying 180 days or six months early as long as you’re OK with the possibility that there may be an overlap between the months your current and renewed DACA are valid. It may be worth it, because after all, who needs one more thing to worry about?