LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — For the first time since 2017, immigration program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) will be open to new applicants. It shields certain people who came to the US as children from deportation, which means they can stay in the country for two years, subject to renewal.

On Friday, a federal judge ordered the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take in applications for immigrants who qualify.

The judge also said approved applicants should get work permits that last for two years, and current DACA recipients, known as “Dreamers”, can travel abroad and return to America.

There are currently more than 640,000 Dreamers in the US. According to the American Immigration Council, over 12,000 of them lived in Nevada, as of March 2020.

Local attorneys say many more can now be helped.

“We thought that we would have to wait until President-elect Biden came into office for USCIS to start accepting those applications, but this order is making it very clear that USCIS has to accept them,” said attorney Africa Sanchez. “So, there’s no longer a waiting period. It’s time to apply.”

Requirements for DACA eligibility include:

  • Having no serious criminal convictions
  • Arriving in the US before age 16
  • Living in the US since at least 2007
  • Earning an American high school diploma, GED or serving in the military

Many are calling the new order a victory for Dreamers, but the fight isn’t necessarily over yet. A DHS spokesman says while the department will comply with the decision, they are working with the justice department on next steps to appeal.