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Why is USCIS Taking So Long to Renew DACA Work Permits?

If the calls to our office are any indicator, there are thousands of DACA recipients whose work permit applications were filed at least three months prior to expiration, who are still waiting for their renewed work permits.  Without renewed permits, these individuals lose the right to work legally, the right to drive, and may once again accrue unlawful presence.

The DHS published a notice in October 2014 advising DACA recipients that they could file their request for extension up to 150 days (5 months) prior to expiration.  As with all things government, very few of the DACA recipients, who tend not to frequent government websites, knew about the memo and many did not file so far before expiration perhaps thinking that extending a work permit was a like extending a drivers license, its is done in a few minutes.  As an experienced immigration lawyer will tell you, the USCIS does nothing quickly, and certainly does not worry that a person may lose their job or their driver's license just because they cannot efficiently print a new card after a background check.

Perhaps responding to the increasing number of panicked calls to their service centers (and from immigration lawyers), USCIS issued another memo in January 2015 advising DACA beneficiaries to file in the window between 150 and 120 days prior to expiration.  USCIS also said that if the exension is pending more than 105 days, they can contact the USCIS online with a request for a status:
USCIS’ current goal is to process DACA renewal requests within 120 days. However, you may submit an inquiry about the status of your renewal request after it has been pending more than 105 days. To submit an inquiry, please visit or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 (TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-767-1833)
If your DACA renewal case has been pending for at least 105 days, we strongly encourage you to actively follow up with the USCIS directly at the website and phone number provided.

As to the first question?  Why is it taking so long to renew a DACA work permit after the applicant has paid $465 and taken their fingerprints?  The crushing number of cases?  Hardly.  Extensive background checks?  Not likely.  Bureaucratic intransigence and poor management of resources?  That sounds like a more likely answer.  Like all things with USCIS, getting answers takes time, but when that time directly impacts a person's ability to work and drive, it is time to get aggressive.

USCIS has uniformly refused to abide by a time in which it MUST issue these work permits (if all other criteria are met).  So the only solution for DACA recipients facing this type of problem is to call USCIS, and to also call their congressman or senator. Each of those offices have individuals whose job it is to inquire on behalf of constituents (including DACA recipients) as to why your case is taking longer than normal. Be aggressive in seeking a response to your application. You paid for "customer service," you deserve to get actual timely service.


  1. Thanks for this article. It is timely and my ead will expire next month. They are inquiring at my job and I am hoping for an extension some way some how if push comes to shove its frustrating.

  2. I got fired due of my permit taking so long they receive my petting on 11/21/2016 now is 03/20/2017 my permit expired 02/20/2017
    I called but they said it was still pending I have to wait 30 more day for me to call again .

    1. I would love to speak to you about this. can you call me? 404-949-8154.

    2. Oh man. We're the same. I applied Oct 4. My daca expired March 1. It's April 4 and I haven't gotten anything and I don't have a job anymore.

    3. Same here, permit expired and my job had to terminate me until I provide a new permit.
      It gets frustrating
      They received my petition in Dec 20 2017 and did biometrics in January.
      Is that a normal waiting time?

  3. Same thing it happened to me now I don't have a job and can't drive because government can't issue me a driver license.
    11/21/2016 now it's 4/4/2017
    I had call twice and all I get
    A letter saying still pending .

    1. Hello Marvin! Did you get your approval yet? I'm in the same boat :(

  4. I have the same issue. I sent mine in on 11/17/16 and it expired on 3/20/17, now it is 4/12/17. Got put on leave of absence from work which affected one of my scholarships for school. All they keep saying is to wait.

  5. Same issue here. They received my renewal application on 12/08/2016. My DACA expired 04/16/2017. I have tried calling, emailing, etc to get an status update and still haven't received anything. My last resort will be getting in touch with the congressional office. I got put on a unpaid personal leave for 3 weeks at work. I can't renew my license either. This is so stressful.

    1. Hello, I'm in the same situation. Did you get yours approved yet?

  6. I submitted my documents November 14, 2016 my work permit expired March 25th. It's close to 2 months since I've been out of work and with no driver license. Super stressful specially when my case still shows as pending.

  7. Mine will expire 5/28/17. I will be terminated at work since they can't allow a temporary suspension/personal leave. I've called several times and all they keep saying is that is pending!

  8. Mine will expire on 5/28 and I will be terminated at my job since they can't allow me a temporary suspension or personal leave, along with my driver's license expiring. I am so stressed at this moment. I have called them several times and all they keep telling me is that my application is pending.

  9. Have you got your renewal card? If yes how long it took ?


  11. I hate to hear that this is happening to you all. However, I feel some what relieve and somewhat anxious, that I'm not the only one in this situation. My daca was lost when my purse was stolen the same day after leaving HR from my newly acquired job. I couldn't apply for a new one since I was going through a bit of a financial crisis due to tuition and well.. life.. so finally after 4 months, I applied in January.. and here I am.. still waiting to receive a replacement card exactly another 5 months later without any news. I just wish they could give us a legitimen reason for the delay.


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