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Five Reasons Your DACA Petition Might Be Delayed

by Rebecca Rojas, Associate

At our office, we get phone calls every day from DACA applicants who want to know why they have not yet received their work permit when their friend/sibling/cousin/classmate who filed after them has already received theirs.  There are many reasons why a DACA (or any other immigration) case can be delayed. These are the top five that we see most frequently:  
1. USCIS Processing Procedures – Without a doubt this is the main reason why petitions are not approved in the order they are received. 
First, once the petition is submitted, it is routed to one of two service centers.  The processing   times of the service centers vary.  You cannot control which service center your application is sent to.
Second, within each service center, the petitions are assigned to different officers.  Some officers work faster than others.  Some officers approve more petitions each day than others.  Unfortunately, you have no control over which officer will review your petition.  Its like driving home from school or work. Sometimes you hit all the green lights, sometimes you hit all the red lights.  Why?  Bad luck or good fortune.
2. Immigration History – If you have been in immigration court, approval of your application is going to take longer.  This is because your file is going to be larger, more complicated, and the officer may have to wait to receive your entire immigration file from the various agencies.
3. Criminal History – If you have had any type of prior contact with law enforcement, your application will take longer. It does not matter that your case was dismissed.  It does not matter that you paid your fine.  It does not matter that all charges were dropped.  Your case will take longer.
4. Physical Presence Issues  – As a rule of thumb, Kuck Immigration Partners tells our clients this:  the longer you have been out of school, the longer it will take your case to be approved.   This is because the officer has to review all the extra documents you had to submit to prove that you have been here since you graduated.  This makes your file larger and more complicated, and thus it will take longer.

5. USCIS Error – While this affects only a small number of applications, it does exist. By way of example, we had a client whose petition was filed many months ago.  We heard nothing for some time, and then USCIS updated its website stating that it had sent us a letter requesting more evidence.  We had never received a letter requesting more evidence so we immediately contacted USCIS asking for more information.   About two weeks later, we received two letters in the mail on the same day from USCIS.  The first stated that USCIS had made a mistake on its website and that there was not, and had never been, a letter requesting more evidence.  The second letter was the letter from USCIS requesting more evidence!  This was obviously an error on USCIS’s part.  The good news is that were able to contact USCIS again and the petition has since been approved, but  this USCIS error did cause some delays.

While we can give estimates regarding how long a DACA petition will take, it is impossible to tell you exactly how long the processing time WILL be.  This is just the way our frustrating and poorly run immigration system works.  Patience is a virtue when dealing with the USCIS.