Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

DACA Immigration Lawyer -- Chicago, IL.

Chicago is a place of immense opportunity for those seeking careers in tourism, technology and other industries. However, being eligible to work and knowing that you are not in danger of being deported are among the most important issues many immigrants in Chicago face. At the Law Office of Michelle Neal, Michelle is an experienced immigration lawyer who understand these issues and the stress they cause Chicago residents.

If you entered the United States at an early age and have been residing here since that time, you may be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. This program is meant to assist young, undocumented immigrants by allowing them to avoid deportation and obtain permission to work for certain periods of time.

Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA)

DACA is a U.S. policy that provides quasi-legal status and employment authorization to certain individuals unlawfully present in the U.S. after being brought to the country as children. “Certain individuals” are defined as:

  • Under 31 as of 06/15/2012
  • Continuous physical presence since 06/15/2007 to present
  • Under age 16 upon entry into the U.S.
  • Entered illegally before 06/15/2021 or had lawful status expire as of 06/15/2012
  • Physically present in U.S. on 06/15/2012 at time of filing
  • Currently enrolled in school or has High School diploma/GED or honorable military discharge
  • No felony conviction, significant misdemeanor, no threat to national security or to public 

There has been a major development to DACA. Texas Federal Judge, Andrew Hanen, on September 13, 2023 ruled against DACA again. He held that the Biden Administration did not correct the legal deficiencies that had led him to rule DACA unlawful in 2021. The decision still allows current DACA recipients to maintain their status AND the USCIS will continue to process renewals for DACA status which prevents deportation.

New applicants are stuck. The Judge stated that the DACA is one for the legislature to decide. The DACA issue is headed to the U.S. Supreme court. The judge refused to order the end of the DACA program while the case is headed to the Supreme court and extended the current injunction.


Benefits Available Through Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA is a form of discretionary relief offered through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that delays actions to remove undocumented immigrants from the U.S. a period of two years, subject to renewal. While receiving DACA will not provide young immigrants with lawful status in the U.S., it does provide the following benefits:

Protection against deportation;
--Eligibility for a work permit;
--Permission to obtain a Social Security number, which could prove helpful in obtaining a Driver’s license
--While DACA is only a temporary fix through the two-year validity period, you may be able to obtain a DACA renewal. These requests should be submitted within 120 days before the current relief period expires. The expiration date is printed on the front of your Employment Authorization Card.

Eligibility Requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Eligibility for DACA is based on the following requirements:
--The applicant was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
--Arrived in the U.S. prior to his or her 16th birthday;
--Has continuously resided in the U.S. from June 15, 2007 up to the present;
--Was physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of making his or her DACA request
--Is currently in school or graduated from high school or obtained his or her GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces.
--Has not been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanor offenses, and does not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

In addition to the above, to receive DACA you must be at least 15 years old, unless you are currently under threat of removal or have a final removal or voluntary departure order.

Documents You Will Need For Your DACA Application

Providing you meet the DACA eligibility guidelines, to apply for DACA you will need to present the following documents to USCIS:
--Proof of identity, such as a passport, school or military photo I.D., birth certificate with photo, or any government issued immigration documents with your name and picture.
--Proof you entered the U.S. prior to your 16th birthday, such as form I-94/I-95/I-94W or other immigration documents, a passport stamp, school, health, or tax records, or employment records and bank transaction receipts.
--Proof of immigration status. This may include Form I-94/I-95/I-94W with an authorized stay expiration date, an order for removal proceedings or a final order for exclusion or deportation.
--Proof of your presence in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and proof that you have resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007. These documents may include utility bills and rent receipts, military, school, and employment records, passport entries, and dated bank transactions.
--Proof of student status, such as a school I.D. or transcripts, or proof of honorable discharge from the military.

USCIS allows you to present copies of certain documents, while requiring originals for others.  While knowing what and how to assemble these immigrations related documents can seem like a difficult task, the Law Office of Michelle Neal can help you locate and identify the proper paperwork to ensure your DACA request is filed correctly.


When considering a DACA request, it is important to understand what DACA is and what it is not. Deferred action allows you to work and to avoid deportation.

It does not allow you the following:
--DACA is not a green card, nor is it a path towards obtaining one.
--DACA is not the same as U.S. citizenship, nor does it lead to it.
--DACA does not involve the naturalization process.
--DACA does not allow you to travel abroad, but it may make it easier for you to obtain travel documents.

President Obama’s Executive Action

On November 20, 2014, President Obama issued a series of executive actions on immigration. These executive actions included an expansion of the eligibility requirements for the DACA program. However, the changes included in this executive action have not yet gone into effect. There is currently a lawsuit before the Supreme Court of the United States that will determine whether President Obama’s Executive Order was a lawful use of his powers, and whether the changes he wanted to make to the DACA program will be implemented or not.

Contact the Law Office of Michelle Neal today for an appointment @ (312) 566-9574

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