How to explain DACA status to others?

Now that so many DREAMers are DACA approved, they have the dilemma of explaining their immigration situation to others and I have heard from several of them in this regard.  Here are some tips on how to handle this sensitive topic.

Current employer:  If you started working illegally in the past, you have a very important decision to make after you are approved under DACA and assigned a valid Social Security number.  You MUST work using your new SSN and you have to do that ASAP because failing to do so only means that you will be breaking a host of laws.  Remember that in America the citizens and legal residents are held to a much higher standard for following the law and if you dream of being in those shoes some day, this is your taste of what lies ahead.  You cannot aspire to be legal but continue to break the law.  Accordingly, you should leave your current job, theoretically the day you get approved, and get a new job with the valid SS#.  Theoretically speaking an employer cannot simply change your Social Security number without jeopardizing your and the company's future because hiring illegal workers is a crime as much as working illegally.  The right approach is to quietly quit and start a new life.  Having said that, some immigrants have had some luck with employers who have changed their information without much trouble.

Future employers:  The IRS provides some guidelines to employers on dealing with DACA applicants, but you can proudly declare that you are authorized to work legally in the United States.  When you complete Form I-9 on your first day of work, you should check the box that says that you are an alien authorized to work and provide your correct SSN, alien number of A# along with the date of expiration of EAD (remember that it is your duty to renew your DACA and EAD and do not expect a reminder from either the USCIS or your employer; failing to do so may not only jeopardize your renewal and will put you in the category of an illegal worker).  You can also show your EAD and Social Security card and let HR make copies.  There is a possibility that you may not be hired for certain jobs or not even considered but that is not necessarily discrimination.  America is a country of at-will employment which means that you can be hired only at the will of the employer but also that you can be fired at will.  For the same reason, something that we easily forget, you will also work at will and that means, you can quit at any time for any reason.  Obviously, there are guidelines regarding discrimination but practically speaking, if the employer needs to train an employee for six months and they conclude that the employee needs to work for at least three years to get the return on investment in the employee, the employer has a reasonable case that they need not hire someone who only has a year or six months left on their EAD card.  Most employers do not like uncertainty. In addition to that, many companies have their own requirements about hiring only citizens or green card holders or only those employees who do not require sponsorships or those who can freely travel overseas if they need to.  So do not take these things personally and just focus on jobs that you are eligible for.



Apparently there is some confusion about DACA among employers because not only is it a new program many citizens are simply not experts in immigration laws.  To keep things simple, you can merely tell them that you are authorized to work legally in the United States and do not need a sponsor either at this time or in the future at the time of renewal (this is a huge benefit to you compared to, say, H visa holders who always need a sponsor).  While many good companies typically pay for immigration related expenses, do not expect it.  So you should save enough money to pay for DACA and EAD renewal but if the employer pays for it, then you should accept it, because many corporations have employees who need sponsorships and the employers typically pay all fees and attorney charges.

With your colleagues, there is no reason to ever discuss your immigration situation, even if you consider them your friends.  While you maybe able to travel overseas on a business trip using Advanced Parole, it is also best to not take jobs that require international travel, and you should typically avoid the topic of foreign trips at work ("Oh I better start saving for a European vacation now so that I can go in this life!").

Non-illegal immigrant friends and acquaintances:  I am a big fan of "need-to-know" basis for sharing any information.  So for people who do not need to know your immigration status, there is no need to share it.  No need for inviting them to a party to celebrate your DACA approval.  Generally speaking, if someone does ask, it is good to be truthful ("I am legally authorized to work in the US." is a good response because you are still not technically legal).  When you are truthful and develop strong friendships with citizens and permanent citizens, some day they will gladly sign an affidavit for you or act as a reference for you.

Dating:  This is different from friendship.  Also, even though you might think that you are only dating casually, all forms of dating can eventually lead to a serious relationship and marriage.  Except for the folks who start with eHarmony with a very clear goal to get married, almost everyone starts dating casually.  That is why it is important to date with a lot of caution.  You definitely do not want to create a dramatic situation in which you are being deported while the other person is planning a wedding.  So use your judgment in picking who to date or even date at all.  Till your immigration situation is sorted out, it is best to avoid dating citizens and permanent citizens unless you are upfront about it.