Everything You Need to Know About Advance Parole for DACA

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on August 14, 2023
At a Glance: DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an immigration policy that provides temporary protection from deportation and work permits for undocumented immigrants who arrived in the US as children. Advance Parole is a travel authorization document that allows DACA recipients to leave and re-enter the US without jeopardizing their status. To apply for Advance Parole, individuals must have a legitimate reason such as education, humanitarian, or employment purposes, and submit an application to the USCIS with supporting evidence. While traveling, it is important to comply with the terms of the advance parole and carry necessary documents to ensure a smooth return to the US.

When renewing your DACA status, you have to prove you’ve never left the country to live somewhere else. You have to prove you are a “child of the States,” and that you never intended to make a home for yourself somewhere else other than America.

That being said, there may be times when you have to travel outside of the U.S. It may be because of work, or you might want to study a semester abroad. It may also be because a dear aunt from your home country is critically ill. Suddenly leaving the country may leave you unable to renew your DACA again. So, what do you do in that case?

Well, that’s fairly simple: you go for a DACA Advance Parole. Thanks to this document, you may be able to temporarily leave the country. This article will go over all the details about DACA and its advance parole.

What Is DACA?

DACA is short for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In other words, it is an immigration policy that President Obama set up in 2012—an executive order for a certain category of immigrants.

This policy was later modified by President Trump, in the sense that new applications are no longer accepted. Only those who have had a DACA before can reapply. It is not certain whether the policy will change again in the future or not.

This policy gave legal rights to any undocumented immigrant that arrived in the United States as a child. They can obtain car loans, as well as several other perks. However, they have to meet certain conditions—such as not leaving the country since their last DACA was issued.

Granted, as the document has to be renewed every two years, one cannot say that they are American citizens or have the exact same rights. Still, it provides temporary protection from being deported, as well as a work permit.

What Is “Advance Parole”

Every now and again, you may have to leave the country as an immigrant (or non-immigrant). It may be for work purposes, educational purposes—or even personal reasons. The problem is that if you try to leave the United States while on DACA, there is a high chance you will no longer be allowed to re-enter the country.

This is why the advance parole for DACA exists. With this temporary travel authorization document, people on a DACA may exit and re-enter the United States if the situation asks for it. The advance parole pretty much acts like a visa that offers you permission to return without jeopardizing your status.

How Can DACA Recipients Travel?

Since the condition for receiving a DACA is to not leave the United States, people may be discouraged from actually trying to leave the country. Still, it can easily be done if you go about it legally.

If you want to travel, you simply have to opt for the Advance Parole DACA, which will give you permission to leave the country and travel. This request to the USCIS will allow you to go outside the U.S. and then return lawfully.

Pros of Advance Parole

The advance parole has its own advantages, making it beneficial to apply. The most notable advantage is, obviously, the ability to travel abroad and then return without having your status compromised.

The DACA advance parole also provides the opportunity to work or study abroad—so, if you have got your sights set on one of these experiences, then it is likely you will be allowed to leave the country. You may also request advance parole in order to visit your sick or elderly relatives.

Cons of Advance Parole

There are indeed certain advantages of traveling with DACA—but there are also a few disadvantages. If you want to go outside the U.S. on advance parole, here are some things you might want to remember:

  • It is risky, and in some cases, you could no longer be allowed back into the U.S.
  • It costs $360 to apply for a DACA Advance Parole.
  • You have limited time for traveling.
  • Not every reason for traveling is approved.

As a result, you might want to be careful about why you want to travel. For instance, if you want to travel for pleasure—to see the world—the response would be a flat-out no. On the other hand, if it’s something you need to do, not just want, then you may just receive approval.

Who Can Apply?

As mentioned, the USCIS will offer permission to travel abroad for those who have demonstrated their need to leave the country. They may be granted advance parole only if their purpose is within the following categories:

Humanitarian: Such as traveling to obtain medical treatment, visit an elderly or sick family member, or attending the funeral of a family member.

Employment: Such as going on an overseas assignment, conference, interview, work meeting, or training.

Educational: Such as conducting academic research or doing a semester abroad as a DACA student.

If you can prove to the USCIS that this trip is something you need to do and not something you just want to do, you may just be granted your advance parole.

How to Apply for Advance Parole

The steps to applying for a DACA Advance Parole might seem slightly intimidating. However, as long as you follow them properly, and have a legit purpose for leaving, you should not have any concerns. Here is what you will have to do:

Step 1: Identify why you need to leave

In order to be approved for DACA, your reason will have to be educational, humanitarian, or for employment purposes. The DHS will not approve advance parole for DACA recipients who suddenly felt like taking a trip to the Bahamas. However, depending on the purposes, some people may be granted permission even without all these restrictions.

Step 2: Complete the necessary form

To receive your advance parole, you need to go to the USCIS website, download form I-131 entitled “Application for Travel Document,” and then fill it out accordingly. Write in your reasons, as well as the dates during which you wish to travel. Everything should be laid out for you on the form.

Step 3: Gather the supporting evidence

You must actually prove that you need this trip. This evidence will include medical records, acceptance for studying abroad, a letter from the employer, and so on.

Step 4: Assemble your application packet

Fill in the application packet with the form and any proof that might support your acceptance. Bear in mind that you must also add the $360 filing fee. Ideally, you may want to go for a money order instead of cash or a regular check. You may also want to make a copy of those documents for yourself before going onto the next step.

Step 5: Mail the package

You may want to mail the package via the U.S. Postal Service—and mail it at least a few weeks prior to departing. The earlier you mail, the better. Make sure to write out the correct address from the USCIS website.

Tips for Traveling With Advance Parole

When traveling with a DACA Advance Parole, there are several tips you might want to keep in mind. This will ensure you don’t get “locked out” of the United States while you are on leave. Here are some quick tips to consider:

  • Before you leave the country, talk with an immigration attorney. They will inform you of any issues that might arise.
  • Don’t miss the deadline for returning to the United States that you have listed on your advanced parole. Staying past that date might once more prevent you from returning.
  • When filling in your return date, leave in some extra time. This will accommodate any delays occurring during your travel.
  • Bring a copy of your DACA approval notice, as well as the approval notice for your advance parole.
  • Leave some copies of your approval notices to one of your trusted representatives in the United States.
  • Make sure you have a list of your emergency contacts with you.

In short, as long as you respect the terms of your advance parole, there is no reason why you should be prevented from returning to the United States. Granted, some precautionary steps should also be taken to prevent any worst-case scenarios.

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Final Thoughts

Just because you are a DACA recipient does not mean you should be caged inside the country where you intend to live, have the ability to obtain a DACA car loan, and travel only within its borders. Granted, you may not have the same rights as a U.S. citizen—but if it’s something that has a serious impact on your life, you should be able to go. You just need to ensure you are timely with your request and that you follow the steps thoroughly. This way, you will be able to return to the United States without having your status affected.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.