DACA Applications in Severe Backlog

Erick Widman

In contrast to President Trump, who attempted to end DACA, the Biden administration has promised to empower the DACA program. In recent months, however, processing delays at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have caused a severe crisis for dreamers through no fault of their own. The DACA application backlog has become so damaging that a group of U.S. Senators wrote to USCIS to demand a solution for what they called an “unacceptable slow rate” of processing that badly hurts not only impacted people, but also their families and employers.

The delays also indicate that tens of thousands of first-time DACA applicants — who could not apply previously due to a Trump administration policy — are now shut out of the DACA program. That’s because their petitions were still on hold after a federal judge in Texas issued an order preventing USCIS from granting the protections to first-time applicants.

For current DACA recipients, thousands of renewal applications have been backlogged, leading dreamers to lose their jobs and their ability to support their families and face the danger of deportation.

If you have questions about a pending immigration benefits request or petition, our experienced immigration lawyers are here to help you. We can address all your immigration questions and concerns and can file the necessary documents to move your request as efficiently as possible. Call now at (503) 427-8243 or schedule a consultation here.

DACA Application Backlog Puts Immigrant Lives on Hold

Thousands looking to renew their DACA status in order to remain in the U.S., their home, have had their cases caught in a fierce backlog of 55,000 first-time DACA recipient applications. Of these 55,000 applications, 13,000 cases having been pending for more than four months past their USCIS adjudication goal. From March to June 2021, first-time DACA applications have increased by 48% (61,000 applications).

Immigration case backlogs are not rare, but this backlog is particularly worrying given the reconsideration of the DACA program after the State of Texas asked a federal judge to suspend or shut down the program. The legality of the DACA program is being examined, so many immigrants are rushing to get their DACA status renewed or applying for the first time. It is important to note that the Biden administration is working on codifying DACA into federal law.

This backlog is not just threatening the legal status of some U.S. immigrants, but also causing individuals whose renewal cases have been delayed to lose their jobs and such employment benefits as health insurance. These losses are critical because these benefits are what keep families and individuals healthy and safe. The USCIS acknowledges the impact their inefficiency has caused. Indeed, their spokesperson Victoria Palmer said, “USCIS also knows that policies and procedures have a direct impact on the lives of DACA recipients and we are committed to minimizing processing delays to help facilitate access to benefits and restore confidence in the system.”

In the end, this backlog and its consequences accentuate the downfalls of the U.S. immigration system. Vice President Harris acknowledges that “[even] with DACA in place, we know that dreamers live in a constant state of fear about their status and about their future.” A pathway to citizenship is essential to the wellbeing of U.S. immigrants and our nation as a whole. For this reason, we’ll all be paying close attention to the policy the Biden Administration pursues to fulfill their promise.

DACA Reinstatement Under Biden Administration

On 20 January 2021, President Biden issued an order that DHS must “take all actions [deemed] appropriate, consistent with applicable law, to preserve and fortify DACA.”

President Biden also declared plans to protect dreamers and their families and provide a way to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. Those steps will take time to implement.

For now, court order will block approval of all new applications for DACA, including those already filed with USCIS, until further congressional or court action. You cannot get your fees back for a petition on file but not being acted upon. Your application might be acted upon later, if legislative action or court appeals change the picture once again. The court order does not affect the rights of current DACA holders nor their renewal ability.

The litigation was ongoing as of October 2022. A federal appeals court in the Fifth Circuit agreed with the Texas court that DACA, as originally designed, was unlawful because of a lack of administrative procedure, but they sent the issue to the Texas court to decide whether subsequent government regulations solved this matter.

Filing for DACA: Initial or Renewal

If you qualify for DACA but have never filed an application before, you might want to consult an immigration lawyer for an evaluation of the updated situation. If the current legal situation changes and you can forward your application, our immigration lawyer can help you fill out Form I-821D and prepare the necessary paperwork and documents that must accompany it.

Your renewal application must be submitted no later than one year after your DACA expires. What is more, USCIS encourages applicants to file their DACA renewals between 120 and 150 days prior to the expiration of their DACA grant. Renewal applications are also made on Form I-821D.

USCIS will deny DACA renewal applications submitted more than 150 days before the expiration date. This puts people in a bind because USCIS has a backlog of unprocessed renewal applications. You might not get a reply for many months, possibly after when you need to know.

Talk to an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

Due to the changing situation, DACA application can seem quite confusing and burdensome. This daunting process that you must go through still does not guarantee your citizenship dreams nor does it provide the opportunity for residency. Talking to our immigration attorney soon will help you better understand your options.

We can help you determine whether you are eligible for DACA after the current updates. Our vast experience in handling DACA applications makes us the ideal guides for your application; we can foresee and address probable queries.

Immigration is a challenging legal area and often leads to many more queries than answers. If you have questions about a DACA application or your eligibility for DACA, the legal team at Passage Immigration Law is ready to assist. For a legal consultation and case evaluation, call us at (503) 427-8243 or schedule a consultation here.

Request a Consultation

"*" indicates required fields

How Can We Help
I Have Read The Disclaimer*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.