How long does it take for a deferred action application to be approved?

How-long-does-it-take-for-a-deferred-action-application-to-be-approvedNOTE: This article was first published shortly after applications were first accepted for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

No one knows the answer to this question. Seriously. No one knows. I explain why no one knows in more detail below; but, the short answer is that you should not expect an immediate approval.

Immigration applications take time. For example, the best case for an adjustment of status (green card) application based on marriage to a United States citizen is about four to five months. Marriage based adjustment of status applications do require an interview, so it may be possible to receive a final decision on a deferred action application that does not involve an interview a little more quickly. Keep in mind, however, that a large number of deferred action applications are expected to be submitted in a relatively short amount of time and many deferred action applications will require the review of a significant amount of evidence, and these factors may result in it taking longer to receive decisions for deferred action applications.

Why does no one know how long it will take for a deferred action application to be approved?

There are several reasons why no one can tell you how long it will take before your deferred action application is approved:

  1. Deferred action is a brand new policy and the application process is brand new. It has never been done before. As a result, we simply don’t know how long it will take for a deferred action application to be processed and for a decision to be made.
  2. Many deferred action applications will involve reviewing evidence covering several years, if not decades. It takes time to go through all of these documents.
  3. No one knows how many applications will be submitted. It is practically impossible to predict how long the process will take when you don’t know how many applications will be submitted.
  4. No one knows when deferred applications will be submitted. Will there be a flood of applications in August? Will people wait until after the election to submit their applications? Will applications be submitted over a long period of time as people collect their supporting documents? The volume of applications received at any point in time will also impact the length of time it takes to receive an answer.
  5. There are concerns about people submitting fraudulent deferred action applications or fraudulent supporting documents. It would not be surprising if deferred action applications and the supporting documents are very carefully reviewed for signs of fraud or if the authenticity of documents is verified by the government. If this happens, it will take time to do this type of careful review.

What can you do to get the fastest decision possible?

First, do not believe anyone who tells you that they can “expedite” your application or get your application moved to the front of the line. This simply isn’t true.

What you can do is minimize the chance of any unnecessary delays by submitting a complete application that has well organized supporting documents that clearly prove that you qualify for deferred action. The stronger your application, the less chance that you will receive a request for evidence that asks you to send in more supporting documents. If you receive a request for evidence, you should expect that it will delay a decision in your case by several months.

More importantly, you should focus your efforts on getting your application approved. There is no appeal of a denied deferred action application. You basically get one chance to get it right. Take the time to submit the strongest application possible. Don’t aim for just meeting the minimum requirements in order to submit your application quickly. Instead, make sure that there will be no doubt that you qualify for deferred action when your application is reviewed.

You should consider discussing your situation with a qualified immigration lawyer before you submit your application. Not only can an immigration lawyer help you present the strongest case possible, but your lawyer can also help you identify whether you qualify for any other immigration options and can help you develop a long term immigration strategy. If you live in Idaho, you can request an appointment with me to assist you with your deferred action application. No matter where you live in the United States, however, you will likely be able to find a good immigration lawyer who can assist you with your application.

About Kimberley Schaefer

Kimberley Schaefer is an immigration lawyer with offices in Boise, ID and Rexburg, Idaho. She helps future Americans become citizens by assisting them with immigrant visas, fiance visas, adjustment of status and green card applications, applying for immigration waivers, fighting deportation and applying for asylum. To contact her, you can call (208) 918-0852 or send Kimberley an email now.


  1. I submitted my application a while ago. I didn’t see any lawyer because I consider myself too smart to be spending so much money on something I can do myself. Anyway, It all went good, and then I got an appointment to take my biometrics. I took my biometrics and everything went smooth. The last thing that I asked before I left the biometrics office was, “So now what? What’s next?”, and the lady told me, “You’re all done, next you will receive your social security number in the mail.” That was back in late November of 2012. And I’m still waiting. So it could actually take this long, even longer?

    Note: I never actually received a letter in the mail telling me that I’ve definitely been approved; first I got a letter in the mail saying that they received my application, then I got another letter in the mail with a scheduled biometrics appointment. Perhaps that’s just how the process goes, no one ever gets told they’ve been accepted, you just have to assume it by the time you get your biometrics appointment?

    • Kimberley Schaefer says

      The biometrics appointment does not mean that your DACA application was approved. It can easily take several months or longer after the biometrics appointment to learn whether your application has been approved. You will receive an official notice in the mail letting you know if your application has been approved or denied. You can also check the status of your case at:

  2. I had the same thing on my mind.. I went for my biometrics on november 4th 2012 and still nothing! People that came here way after me got them already and me been here soo long 20 years and nothing..:( I got a bit scared but reading this makes me feel better:) thanks

    • Kimberley Schaefer says

      There has been a lot of variation in the length of time to receive a decision on a DACA application.

      If you’ve already done your biometrics, then your application is being reviewed. Make sure that you keep your address up to date with USCIS so that you don’t miss any letters that they may send to you. If USCIS sends you a Request for Evidence asking for more information, you’ll only have a limited amount of time to respond, so you don’t want to miss the letter if they send you one. Of course, you also don’t want to miss it if they send your work card to you!

  3. I got arrested for d.v but was never convicted when to get my criminal record then when to get my court deposition on my court deposition says that was stricken off do I still qualify deffered action

    • Kimberley Schaefer says

      The only way for a lawyer to provide you with an informed opinion on any matters related to convictions is for the lawyer to review the actual court paperwork. You should schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer before moving forward with your deferred action application.

  4. i got pulled over for speeding, i went for my biometrics before i got pulled over will this affect me?

  5. I got pulled over for speeding .. but i had already went for my biometrics. will that affect their decision ?

    • Kimberley Schaefer says


      It is impossible to comment on any issues related to criminal convictions without reviewing the case and the court records in detail. If you have any concerns about your case, you should contact a local immigration attorney to schedule a consultation.


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