As we reported before in Lacey and Larkin Frontera Fund, hundreds of DACA recipients are experiencing extraordinary delays in the processing of their DACA renewal with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This is a huge problem for those who are granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and need to renew every two years. The most critical document these immigrants are waiting for is the extension of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which must have a valid date for the beneficiary to work legally.
Some blogs are reporting immigrants being in danger of losing their jobs due to the administrative problems inside USCIS. The level of stress in the young immigrant community is high because most can’t support themselves and their families if they are laid off or must take unpaid leave.
Along with their employment, many may lose health coverage and property.
USCIS previously advised individuals seeking DACA renewals to submit the forms and documentation 120 to 150 days before their work permits expire. But some processing centers are taking up to 180 days to complete the process and renew the EAD.
Adding to the stress, USCIS is also not accurately reporting the processing times, according to many immigrant rights organizations. In an effort to control misinformation, immigrants are sharing their DACA renewing experiences in closed social media groups.
The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), an immigrant rights nonprofit, released some suggestions for undocumented immigrants renewing DACA:
1. Apply early if you are comfortable with a possible overlap in EAD dates. USCIS will process a DACA application sent prior to the recommended 120-150 days before the EAD expiration date. However, the issued EAD card may have a date overlapping your current work permit. Some people are applying early to avoid disruptions that may cause job loss. Individuals sending documents to the Nebraska processing center may consider sending applications 180 days before the EAD expiration date. Consult this DACA calculator on the NILC site.
2. Consider delaying factors. If you had a new arrest or criminal conviction or traveled outside the country under Advanced Parole, apply for your renewal more than 150 days before the EAD expiration date. These factors trigger delays.
3. Check the status of your application online. You can monitor the status of your case using this link. Have your case’s information handy.
4. Call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-365-5283. Have your case’s information handy and be ready to write down your case number. Expect waits on the phone.
6. Reach out to USCIS’s Ombudsman Office. Contact this office only after your DACA application has been pending for more than 105 days. File Case Assistance Form DHS-7001 with the ombudsman by following this link.
5. Email the appropriate USCIS processing center. Your receipt notices state which service center is working on your paperwork.
6. Contact your congressperson. Ask to speak to the immigration case worker on staff and explain your situation.
7. Email the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Write in the subject line “DACA Renewal Delay” and your name.