DACA-mented individuals and individuals with pending applications for adjustment of status may seek permission to travel abroad. Applicants for adjustment of status do not need specific reasons to gain advance parole however, individuals with DACA do need to provide specific reasons as to why they need to travel abroad. If your DACA was approved, and you are considering international travel, this guidance will clarify: (1) the type of permission; (2) the requirements; (3) the factors to consider; and (4) the process.
WHAT PERMISSION DO I NEED TO TRAVEL?
DACA recipients must apply for advance parole with USCIS in order to travel abroad and return safely to the United States without losing their DACA status. This permission will specify during which dates travel abroad is authorized. Advance parole is a form of permission to enter the U.S. after a temporary trip abroad. An advance parole authorization document allows an immigration agent to ‘parole’ an individual into the U.S.
WHAT ARE THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS TO APPLY?
To apply for permission to travel, you have been approved for DACA. Individuals with pending DACA applications are not eligible as in you cannot simultaneously apply for DACA and advance parole.
(Note: You can also get advance parole through the adjustment of status process, and the requirements differ. Please consult with an attorney or accredited BIA representative about your individual circumstances).
In addition to DACA approval, individuals must specify the reason for travel that fits into one of the following three categories: (1) humanitarian; (2) employment; or (3) educational purposes. USCIS provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of each purpose:2
- Humanitarian purposes: “travel to obtain medical treatment,attend funeral services for a family member, or visit an ailing relative.”
- Employment purposes: “overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, trainings, or meetings with clients.”
- Educational purposes: “semester abroad programs or academic research.”
WHAT FACTORS SHOULD I CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING IF I SHOULD TRAVEL ABROAD?
Given your individual circumstances, it’s important to consider the potential legal, practical, and personal effects of travel. Before making a final decision, we encourage you to consult with an attorney. If you have the possibility of gaining permanent residency through a close family member who is a permanent resident or U.S. citizen, this could be a positive factor in your decision. Please be sure to disclose to an attorney any of the following that apply to you:
- Prior order of deportation or removal or case in immigration court
- Criminal convictions (even if the same crime did not affect DACA eligibility)
- Immigration-related fraud or misrepresentation to a government official
- Prior departure(s) from the U.S. followed by entry/ies without permission
- Possibility of gaining permanent residency through an immediate family member
Three other important factors to consider:
- First, the advance parole document is not a guarantee of admission into the U.S. When a DACA recipient with advance parole tries to re-enter the U.S., technically the person is an applicant for admission and can be barred from entry if they are found “inadmissible.” It is unlikely, though not impossible, that you would be denied re-entry in to the U.S. unless your case raises a red flag (for example, you traveled outside the dates for which you were permitted, have a prior deportation order, and so on). However, there is always a risk of not being allowed to re- enter when traveling abroad other than as a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
- During the global COVID-19 pandemic, many borders are closed, people are struck in countries without recourse, and flights might not be operational. It is wise to get a sense of what additional requirements, including length of quarantine, you would need to travel to another country. Advance parole only grants you permission to enter the US; not to enter or depart another sovereign country. It would also be wise to allow yourself additional time to travel—both with respect to departing and returning to the United States—so you should ask for extended dates whenever possible. If you are going anywhere other than your home country, you might need a visa to travel to the country depending on your own country of origin.
- This is very unlikely at this time but traveling may have consequences for a student’s ability to gain long-term immigration relief. If Congress passes immigration reform, and like DACA, requires presence on a specific date to qualify for relief, those out of the country at the time may be left out of a legalization program for which they would have otherwise been eligible. It is unclear at this time if there will be such legislation or what the requirements will be, but it is important to stay up to date on any developments.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR ADVANCE PAROLE THROUGH DACA?
Required Documents: If you decide to apply for advance parole, the application must include:
- A completed USCIS Form I-131;
- A copy of your DACA approval notice or work authorization document;
- Two passport-sized photos;
- A copy of an official ID showing name and date of birth (Ex: copy of your CA ID or employment authorization document);
- Your unexpired passport from your country of citizenship (you do not need this to get advance parole but you do need this to leave and return to the United States);
- A filing fee of $575 (checks or money orders should be made payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” – no abbreviations); and
- Supporting evidence of the purpose of travel: a statement describing the plan for the trip (who, what, when, where) and its benefit/importance and evidence as to its connection to an educational, humanitarian, or employment purpose. Examples of acceptable evidence include “a document showing enrollment in an educational program requiring travel” and “documentation of a family member’s serious illness or death.” All supporting documents should be in English or translated into English as well.
Timing: It is recommended to apply for advance parole as far in advance as possible and at least three months before the expected date of your trip. If there is no time before your travel, you can request emergency advance parole through the local USCIS field office. Many individuals have done so in the past however services may be limited due to the pandemic.
Length of trip: Individuals must specify the dates they wish to travel and the countries they will go to during the trip. DACA-mented individuals have been granted permission to travel for a few days as well as for an entire year, depending on whether the length of time is justified. USCIS has granted permission to travel for a single trip and for multiple trips over the course of a year. Regardless or the length of travel, it is important to stay within the confines of your approved travel dates. To account for any unexpected changes to your travel schedule, request a few additional days on Form I-131 to give yourself some flexibility.
APPLYING FOR ADVANCE PAROLE
- Be sure to stay within the dates of approved travel. When applying for advance parole, we suggest that you give yourself a few extra days on either end of your trip to allow for contingencies.
- Example – If my study abroad program goes from January 20, 2021 to May 15, 2021, I may want to apply for advance parole from January 14, 2021 to May 31, 2021.
- One application for multiple trips: If you have multiple trips planned, you can apply for advance parole for these trips in one application.
- Example – I have been approved for a research project that involves several trips to one country or visiting multiple countries. I can list all of these country visits in ONE Form I-131 with an explanation for the multiple trips. It is advisable to ask for advance parole from the start of the first trip to the end date of the final trip, and to list every country you might visit or have a layover in. Do keep in mind that you will not be granted advance parole beyond the expiry date of your current EAD.
LEAVING THE UNITED STATES AND TRAVELING TO YOUR DESTINATION
- For travel to country of origin – If you plan to travel to your country of origin, the only document you need for entry is a passport from that country that is valid for six months after the date of travel.
- For travel to a third country – If you are traveling to a place that is NOT your country of origin, you will need to comply with any visa requirements of that country as they pertain to someone with your nationality. If you have any questions about the visa requirements, please talk with your attorney.
- Example – I am a Salvadoran national traveling to Mexico. I will need a visitor visa required for a Salvadoran to enter Mexico. The best place to look for this information is the consulate website for the destination country, in this case, Mexico.
RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES
- Re-entry documents – In order to be fully prepared for any questions you may receive from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), we suggest that you carry with you the following original documents:
- A passport from your country of origin that is valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel;
- Advance parole document;
- Evidence of reason for trip abroad (if traveling under DACA advance parole);
- Your current employment authorization card (if separate from your advance parole document);
- A copy of your DACA approval notice (if applicable)
- State I.D. or driver’s license (if applicable); and
- Your attorney’s business card with contact information (if applicable)
Make copies of the documents above, keep a set with you, and leave one with someone you trust in the United States in case you lose the originals.
A CBP officer will likely take you to secondary screening and ask questions about your trip abroad when you are re-entering the U.S., such as:
- What was the reason for your trip abroad?
- For how long were you gone?
- What countries did you visit and where did you stay?
A CBP officer may also ask questions about your residence in the United States, such as:
- Where do you reside in the U.S.?
- What do you do there?
- Are you married to a U.S. citizen?
You should be prepared to answer these questions. You should also allow yourself 2-3 hours to go through this secondary questioning process.
PROOF OF RE-ENTRY TO THE US
If you are returning to the United States over a land border, be sure that an immigration officer at the port of entry inspects you and stamps your passport. This proof of re-entry is evidence that you complied with the terms of your Advance Parole and may also be useful to you in the future if you ever apply for permanent residency through a family member.
If the CBP official does not give you an I-94 (white card) or you are entering through an airport, you can download a proof of entry here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/
For more and latest information, please see USCIS website: https://www.uscis.gov/i-131
The information herein is subject to change and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For help with your case, including consultations and/or to hire us for this or any other process, you can contact us here: https://lallegal.com/contact-us/ or email us directly at email@example.com