On November 15, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released a news alert titled “USCIS Guidance on DACA Renewal Requests Affected by Mail Service Issues” [PDF version].
For background, on September 5, 2017, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine C. Duke rescinded the implementing memorandum for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program [see article]. However, certain current DACA beneficiaries were permitted to renew their DACA provided that their applications were received by the USCIS on October 5, 2017.
In the post, the USCIS explains that it has received reports that the United States Postal Service (USPS) “has identified USPS mail service delays that affected a number of DACA renewal requests.” These delays were significant because individuals who did not meet the October 5, 2017 filing deadline have no recourse for renewing DACA. Accordingly, and in light of the mail service delays, acting Secretary Duke “has directed USCIS to accept DACA renewal requests from individuals who resubmit their DACA renewal request with individualized proof that the request was originally mailed in a timely manner and that the cause for receipt after the Oct. 5, 2017 deadline was a result of USCIS mail service error.” Individuals who mailed their DACA applications in a timely manner and do not have “individualized proof” may contact the USPS, which will review each request and issue a letter that can be submitted as evidence to the USCIS on a case-by-case basis.
It is important to note that this new policy only applies to individuals who:
- Mailed their DACA renewal requests with the USPS in a timely manner (before October 5, 2017); and
- Whose renewal requests were not received by USCIS by October 5, 2017.
Individuals who failed to mail their renewal requests by the deadline are not eligible to file (or re-file) their DACA requests. Furthermore, the USCIS will require proof that the original renewal request was mailed in a timely manner. Individuals who lack proof may contact the USPS and request a letter, which the USPS may issue in its discretion.
Furthermore, the USCIS news release explains that it has “discovered certain cases in which DACA requests were received at the designated filing location (e.g., at the applicable P.O. Box) by the filing deadline, but were rejected.” The USCIS explains that it will contact these individual requestors in order to inform them that they may resubmit their DACA renewal requests. If a DACA requestor is not contacted by the USCIS but believes that his or her DACA request was received at the proper designated filing location by the deadline, “he or she may resubmit his or her DACA request with proof that the request was previously received at the designated filing location before the deadline.”
The news release states that the USCIS will provide more information in the near future.
Because of the unique situation involving DACA, it is crucial for individuals whose DACA renewal requests were not accepted for one of the reasons described in the notice to properly re-file their requests as soon as possible. Those with questions are well-advised to consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance and for assistance in ensuring that their requests are properly re-filed. The long-term outlook for DACA beneficiaries remains uncertain, and those affected by the recent developments may consult with an experienced immigration attorney for case-specific guidance.
We will continue to update the website with more information on the situation for DACA beneficiaries as it becomes available.