The requirements for application to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy explicitly state that all applicants will have to submit to a background check where their criminal records will be examined. The point of this background check is to make sure that criminals are not allowed to defer their removal proceedings since criminals are the particular group that Immigration and Customs Enforcement are trying to deport.
The general outline for criminal records that will preclude applicants from applying for DACA are
- No felonies,
- No significant misdemeanors,
- No more than two misdemeanors of any kind,
- And the applicant cannot be suspected of being a threat to the United States.
More specifically, a felony is defined as a crime where the sentence after conviction is greater than one year. These are the most serious crimes such as sexual assault, serious fraud or murder.
A significant misdemeanor is generally, but not always, a crime for which the punishment is between five and 365 days. Crimes that qualify as significant misdemeanors are domestic violence, sexual abuse, robbery or theft, drug related charges and driving while intoxicated. However, significant misdemeanors are not limited to this short list, indeed, any crime that ends up putting you into custody for 90 days or more can be considered a significant misdemeanor. Like all of the other requirements regarding DACA they are subject to change according to the USCIS’ discretion.
Non-significant misdemeanors are very similar to the significant variety. Any crime that results in jail time for more than five days that is not a felony or a significant misdemeanor is a non-significant misdemeanor. These are very minor crimes and if you have only been convicted of a couple it is unlikely that your application will be thrown out. However, if you have many of these charges on your record it indicates that you have a habit of breaking laws and it makes you more probable to commit a larger crime sometime in the future which the government would like to prevent. Three or more non-significant misdemeanors will probably get your application rejected.
Being somehow linked to gangs or terrorist organizations will be construed as being a threat to the safety of the United States and will disqualify you from DACA.
Any offenses that are the result of a particular state’s immigration laws are not considered to be under the purview of the USCIS and will therefore be ignored.