The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in June 2012. Under this program, individuals meeting specified requirements can apply to have a deportation action deferred for two years, subject to renewal for an additional two years. Students under DACA are considered by DHS to be lawfully present in the United States during the period of deferred action.
On June 5, 2014, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its Frequently Asked Questions regarding Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Of significance, the USCIS clarified that “individuals granted deferred action are not precluded by federal law from establishing domicile in the U.S.” (Frequently Asked Questions, #5.) Based on this clarification, we have concluded that students who have been granted DACA status have taken appropriate steps to obtain a change of status from the applicable federal agency to a classification which does not preclude establishing domicile. (See, Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, § 54045(c).) Thus, for residency determinations made on or after June 5, 2014, if the student otherwise meets the requirements of California law related to physical presence and the intent to make California home for other than a temporary purpose, the student can be classified as resident for purposes of assessing tuition, awarding Board of Governors Fee Waivers, and determining eligibility for services that require California residency.
While DACA status is conferred for only two years, subject to renewal, as a general rule residency classification will not be impacted by the renewal requirement. Once a student has been classified as a resident, colleges are not required to determine the student’s classification again unless the student has not been in attendance for more than one semester or quarter. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, 54010(a).)