Since the creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Sept. 2012,the United States Citizens and Immigration Service (USCIS) has approved more than half a million applications. Getting DACA approval, however, is just the first step to living the American dream. To assist childhood arrivals in traveling further down the path of an integrated American life, here’s a list of 10 things to do after getting DACA.
1. Get a Social Security Number
Once you get DACA approval, you can apply for a Social Security number (SSN) by visiting your local Social Security office in person. The government doesn’t automatically give you a Social Security number with your DACA approval, but having a Social Security number helps you pay into the system and also to receive benefits.
When you visit your local Social Security office, bring your DACA approval and proof of your identity and age using an original document or a certified copy of one of these:
- Birth certificate
- U.S. military record
- U.S. military ID
- Religious record showing age or birth date
- U.S. driver’s license
- U.S. state-issued identification card
- School record showing your age or birth date
- School ID
- Medical records
You can’t use photocopies or notarized copies of these documents when you apply for your SSN. Once the Social Security Administration verifies your documents, you’ll receive your Social Security Card in the mail in one to four weeks.
2. Transfer your credit history to your new SSN
If you’ve been using an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN), you’ll want the financial entities in your life—your bank or financial institution, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the three credit bureaus—to reflect your new SSN. An ITIN and a Social Security number aren’t interchangeable.
While you can contact your bank by phone or in person to find out how to add your SSN to your account information, you’ll have to send a letter to the IRS and to the credit bureaus.
Here are the addresses you’ll need:
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 149342
Austin, TX 78714-9342
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374
3. Get a Driver’s License or State ID
Now that you have your SSN, you can now get a state ID or driver’s license. When applying, use the same state residency proof you used for your DACA application.
The only states that don’t allow DACA recipients to get a driver’s license are Arizona and Nebraska.
4. Start Applying for Jobs
Even though you can apply for any job you want before receiving DACA approval, you can’t actually accept a job before you get the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in the mail. DACA lets you legally work in the U.S., so now no job is out of reach. Go for the job you want!
5. Use your SSN to Find Financial Aid to Help with Educational Opportunities
Having a SSN opens the doors to many more financial aid opportunities than are available to you without one. Without a SSN, you’re limited to apply only for those scholarships that don’t require proof of citizenship whereas having the number opens up the aid available aid opportunities.
6. Settle Your Issues with the IRS
If you have tax issues with the IRS, it’s best to resolve these as soon as possible to avoid possible hiccups in your DACA status. Working as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. could mean the IRS wants you to pay taxes on the earnings. Because of this, it’s best to get the advice of a tax accountant to determine how to move forward. If you’ve already been paying taxes on earnings, you’ll want to verify you’ve paid the correct amount.
7. Talk to Your Employer About DACA
Few employer issues centering on DACA have been reported by immigrants who’ve received approval. Still, many have questions about how DACA will affect current and future employment. A lawyer is the best source to address your concerns about DACA and your employment.
8. Get Advance Parole
Remember that if you travel outside the U.S. or its territories, you’ll need to obtain Advance Parole from the USCIS. While immigrants with DACA approval can travel anywhere within the U.S., the failure to obtain Advance Parole before traveling internationally will result in termination of your DACA approval. It will also bar you from ever re-entering the U.S.
9. Know about DACA News and Immigration Laws
DACA is a new program that will likely see a number of changes as we progress through the immigration issue. Whether the topic centers of DACA renewal or comprehensive immigration reform, you’ll want to know what’s happening in immigration.
10. Tell DREAMers About DACA
Even though DACA is currently the best and only legal option available to DREAMers, many undocumented immigrants have fears and concerns about the program. Because you’ve already gone through the experience personally—and started to reap some of the benefits that come with your DACA approval—you can influence peers in your community to follow your example.