Immigration Lawyer: Understanding DAPA and DACA

Sun, Aug 09, 2015 at 9:05AM

Last November, President Obama announced that the US Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, would not be deporting eligible, undocumented parents of legal permanent residents—LPRs—in a new program called DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. He also spoke about the expansion of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which would allow more child immigrants to qualify for deferred action.

Here are a few basics you should know about each program:


DAPA offers a degree of protection to individuals who, while not lawful residents themselves, are the parents of US citizens or otherwise legal permanent residents. Some of the chief requirements include having been in the country on November 20th, 2014, having continuously lived in the country since January 1st, 2010, and having not been convicted of criminal offenses like felonies or significant misdemeanors.

It is important to note that DAPA is not for the parents of children protected by DACA. DACA is not a form of legal permanent residence. Parents applying for DAPA must have children who are citizens or green card holders.


President Obama’s executive order did not actually create the DACA program—instead, it provided for the expansion of an already existing program that was created in 2012. The 2014 executive order removed the age cap for applicants and changed the DACA grant from two years to three, among other changes. The requirements for DACA are similar to those that exist for DAPA, but also say that the applicant must have been sixteen years old or younger upon arriving in the US and must be in school or have already graduated.

And remember… neither DACA nor DAPA provides for a green card or permanent lawful residence in the US. This is a common misconception. Rather, these programs exist to give parents and children temporary protection from deportation and time to apply for legal residence, if they choose to do so.

A hold on the application process

It is important to know that eligible individuals can not yet apply to either program due to state resistance—namely, a federal district court in Texas that issued an order blocking the program from being implemented, for now. This holdup does not affect individuals protected by the original DACA, however—it just does not include the expanded form of the program. This means that the original requirements (such as being under the age of 31 in 2012) and grants of deferral time still hold true, until the new DACA is put in place.

Until both DAPA and DACA are implemented in their entirety, you can use this time to further research each of the programs, find out if you are eligible to apply, and prepare any necessary documents or other requirements you may need. And please remember: don’t solely rely on websites or consultants to advise you regarding your specific case. You should always speak to a qualified immigration lawyer to make sure you’re getting the most accurate, helpful legal information possible.


Ryan Rodrick Beiler /


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