A client was waiting a long time for their DACA to be approved, so long in fact the it was even beyond the “normal” outrageous processing times. As most know, there is not much that can be done in such a case to “hurry up” the processing. We decided that we would do a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a copy of his file to determine what USCIS was doing with his case. Miraculously, we received the FOIA response back within 60 days. Also, miraculously, his DACA was approved shortly before we received the FOIA. So, why is this interesting? Because as part of the FOIA response, we received the USCIS checklist for DACA processing!
Receiving something like this is like finding a piece of gold in a pile of rubble. The value of knowing exactly what USCIS is looking at while adjudicating an application can be incalculable; and this particular document is no exception. For example the checklist clarifies something that USCIS has been somewhat evasive about in the context of possible misconduct by the applicant:
The following are not counted as convictions: Youthful offender-juvenile delinquency (review for EPS concerns), conviction in absentia, deferred prosecution, dismissals, dropped, set aside, nolle prosequi, full and unconditional pardons, expunged/vacated (unless the conviction was expunged/vacated for immigration purposes), STET – if still in place and requestor in compliance (Maryland and West Virginia), continued without finding, deferred adjudication.
This definition of conviction is far more limited than the definition of conviction found in the Immigration Act.
We also learn that for DACA applicants who are home-schooled, the case will automatically be referred to another speciality officer (the CFDO). More interesting is the number and types of system checks that must done to be approved for DACA, including, CIS 9101 and CIS 9202, FD258 (FBI), Ident and Non-Ident, CLAIMS (prior USICS filings), and IBIS. So, when USCIS say they do a detailed background check on each applicant, they are not kidding.
There are, of course, other points of interest in the checklist, including a reference to the USCIS’s controversial “CARRP Protocols” (delaying cases for people from countries of predominate Muslim heritage), meaning for someone from such a country a possible LONG delay in in adjudication.
The Worksheet attached to the DACA Checklist allows for the officers to handwrite in their summary of the evidence submitted for proof of physical presence on June 15, 2012, and for proof of legal presence in each of the five years since June 15, 2007. There is also a place for the officer to note other supporting documentation, including affidavits.
Finally, there is a Decision Processing Worksheet attached to the DACA Checklist (which oddly enough also contains an H-2A expedite and H-1B Premium Processing worksheets). This Decision Processing Worksheet provides many options for the officer to approve RFE or deny the DACA application.
Knowing what is needed for a DACA approval is essential to properly preparing and presenting a DACA application. Because of this FOIA response, we now know what USCIS is looking for to approve your DACA case.