Deferred Action Significant Misdemeanors

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Among the seven eligibility requirements of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy there are criminal disqualifications.

This eligibility requirement reads as such: “Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.”

We have received many questions on what exactly constitutes a “significant misdemeanor.” I will attempt to explain USCIS’s definition of significant misdemeanor here.

For the purposes of the policy a significant misdemeanor is defined by the regulations of such under federal law (“specifically, one for which the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is one year or less but greater than five days”). The misdemeanor must also meet the following defined requirements, as quoted from USCIS:

  1. Regardless of the sentence imposed, is an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or, driving under the influence; or,
  2. If not an offense listed above, is one for which the individual was sentenced to time in custody of more than 90 days. The sentence must involve time to be served in custody, and therefore does not include a suspended sentence.

Let’s break that down into some simplified Q & A’s about what constitutes a significant misdemeanor and what does not.

But remember! DACA is a policy of prosecutorial discretion, meaning cases are decided on an individual basis so even if it seems you might not meet the eligibility requirements, it still may be fruitful for you to apply as a lack of meeting certain eligibility requirements may be forgiven if it is seen that you are not a threat to public safety or national security.

If I was imprisoned for less than five days, does this constitute a significant misdemeanor?


If I committed any acts of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm and was convicted and charged of a misdemeanor under federal law, am I eligible?


If I have been charged with a DUI am I eligible?


If I was sentenced to time in custody for 90 days or less, am I eligible?


If I have been convicted and charged of a minor traffic defense, such as driving without a license, will it be counted as a significant misdemeanor?

No. Minor traffic violations are considered non-significant misdemeanors. You should still be eligible if you have minor traffic violations.

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