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USCIS Reverses Policy on Rejection of DACA Renewal Applications

by Suzanne Tomatore and Laura Berger November 17, 2017

On June 15, 2012, the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security announced that certain individuals who had come to the United States as children and who met certain criteria could apply for deferred action from deportation and temporary employment authorization for a period of two years, with a possibility of renewal, under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program. On September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced that it was rescinding the DACA program, but was giving current DACA recipients until on or before October 5, 2017, to reapply and have their applications for renewal received by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security.

In the week before the deadline, the U.S. Postal Service had unexpected mail delays in several cities, including Chicago and New York City. Due to these delays, and despite the fact that the U.S. Postal Service admitted the error, some applications that had been mailed well in advance of the imposed deadline were not received by U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) on or before October 5th , and were rejected. In addition, dozens of DACA applications that had arrived to the USCIS lockbox on or before the October 5th  deadline but were not picked up or processed by USCIS by that date were wrongfully rejected as being untimely.  Although most immigration applications are considered timely filed based on their postmark date, that was not the case with these DACA renewals.

As of October 18th, USCIS had rejected a total of 4,000 renewal applications that it claims had been received too late. It is unclear how many had been held up by mail delivery issues beyond the applicants’ control or had been received before the deadline and mistakenly rejected by USCIS.  Regardless of when the applications had been mailed, USCIS said it would not accept any of the renewal applications that it received after October 5th.

On Wednesday night, November 15th, however, as a result of the persistent efforts of immigrant advocates and coverage of the issue by the New York Times, USCIS reversed this policy.  It now will allow applicants who were mistakenly rejected to resubmit their renewal applications, provided they have proof that they had mailed them in a timely manner.

USCIS plans to issue guidance about how to resubmit these renewal applications shortly. This reversal will allow eligible young people who previously had DACA to renew their employment authorizations and extend their deferred status to temporarily stay in the U.S.

For more information about DACA, visit the USCIS website. To learn about the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Justice Project, click here.

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