Can DACA Recipients Travel?

Updated on June 15, 2023
At a Glance: DACA recipients can travel abroad temporarily with advance parole or a travel authorization. A federal court order in December 2020 mandated the acceptance of DACA travel authorizations by USCIS. However, travel is limited to important public benefits or urgent humanitarian reasons. Failure to obtain travel authorization may result in the end of DACA status. Eligibility for travel authorization depends on meeting specific criteria, and reasons such as supporting law enforcement or national security, caring for immediate relatives, or obtaining necessary medical treatments may qualify. Careful application and legal advice are crucial, as mistakes or past violations can affect entry to the US. Travel authorization comes with fees, and DACA students can also study abroad with authorization.

Being a DACA recipient surely has a lot of benefits, and if you are one, you’re already well aware of that. However, there are some things you might not know. For example, can DACA recipients travel? Do you need certain documents to be able to travel? So, Read on to find out more about traveling for DACA recipients.

Can DACA Recipients Get Travel Authorization?

DACA recipients can travel abroad temporarily if they want to, but they need advance parole or a travel authorization to be able to do so. On December 4, 2020, there was a federal court order where a judge directed the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept the DACA travel authorizations. Once again, this would give DACA recipients the possibility to leave the United States for a temporary period, and then go back lawfully.

They would only be able to leave the country for something involving an important public benefit, or urgent humanitarian reasons. Therefore, even with a travel authorization, a DACA recipient will not be able to travel for just any reason.

People can get the authorization as an advance parole document, and the court ruling in December means that USCIS has to start accepting the advance parole applications through DACA. Moreover, they have to offer advance parole documentation to those who qualify for it.

Why Do DACA Recipients Need Travel Authorization?

It is mandatory for DACA recipients to get a travel authorization, or else they would be unable to maintain their status. If they departed the U.S. on August 15, 2021, or after this date and they do not have an authorization, the deferred action under DACA would automatically end for them. Unless you want this to happen, getting advance parole is a must.

Eligibility for DACA Travel Authorization

People must be eligible for DACA travel authorization in order to obtain one. Not every DACA recipient will be able to get it. Advance parole for traveling outside the U.S. will only be given by USCIS to those recipients who follow the latest guidance available. This new guidance shows that the advance parole would be needed either for a significant public benefit or for any humanitarian reason that needs urgent care.

So, that being said, you cannot travel for just any reason as a DACA recipient. If you want to travel outside of the country to visit friends or family or you simply want to go on a nice trip, you will not be granted travel authorization. They are not valid reasons for obtaining advance parole.

Several reasons will grant someone advance parole for traveling outside the U.S. as a DACA recipient. These reasons include:

  • Going outside the country in order to support the federal law enforcement interests of the U.S.
  • Traveling in order to support the national security interests of the U.S.
  • Traveling to support the wellbeing, safety, or care of an immediate relative, especially if it is the alien’s minor child
  • Traveling abroad in order to get some medical treatments that help sustain their life, treatments that the alien cannot obtain while in the U.S.

There are still a few things to keep in mind, though. For example, even if you are eligible for a travel authorization, things may not go as smoothly if you are not careful. More specifically, if you make even the smallest mistakes on the application, it may be rejected, and this results in delays.

On top of that, bear in mind that it is not guaranteed that you receive advance parole into the U.S. Basically, when entering the U.S., foreign nationals will be inspected at the port of entry. This will help determine whether the individual is eligible to enter the country or not.

At the time of entry, the Customs and Border Protection officer or any other official at the port of entry will check your documentation. If it is believed that you somehow don’t meet the requirements to enter the country, the officer can deny your entry.

There are several things that can affect the possibility of entering the U.S. For example, any past immigration violations, past times in unlawful status, and any criminal offense can all pose problems when trying to enter the country as a DACA recipient with advance parole.

So, before you even apply for the authorization, you must talk to an immigration attorney and discuss the plans. This will help you take the best course of action and make sure that no unpleasant scenario occurs.

DACA Travel Authorization FAQ

While things seem straightforward, you may still have questions regarding DACA and traveling with a DACA travel authorization. Well, here are some frequently asked questions about the matter.

Can You Leave the U.S. with DACA?

Yes, you can leave the U.S. with DACA, but only if you receive travel authorization. Also known as advance parole, the authorization will let you go outside the U.S. if you have any good reason to do so. Having a good reason is the only way to qualify for the authorization.

For instance, one can get DACA advance parole for humanitarian reasons, but also employment reasons like interviews, training, assignments, or work meetings. Educational reasons are also accepted.

Also, if you are a DACA applicant, you cannot travel outside the U.S. until you get approval for your DACA request. If you travel outside the U.S. before you receive any approval for your status, you will lose your status. Also, even if you were granted permission to travel, you can still be denied entry when you come back.

Can You Travel to Mexico with DACA?

Traveling to Mexico with DACA is possible once you get your advance parole document. You will be able to go abroad to Mexico and return lawfully after the document is granted. 

Can DACA Students Study Abroad?

Yes, DACA students can study abroad once they receive travel authorization. In order to obtain it, you will have to prove to USCIS that you need to travel for academic research or a semester abroad program. Once you demonstrate this, you will be allowed to travel.

How Much Is Advance Parole for DACA?

Applying for advance parole as a DACA recipient will cost $360. So, it can be a bit pricey for some people, especially considering that the time for travel is pretty limited.

Read More

The Bottom Line

DACA recipients can travel abroad, but only in specific circumstances, and only if they are able to obtain a travel authorization document from USCIS. When a DACA recipient is traveling for humanitarian reasons, education reasons, or employment reasons, they may be granted permission to travel, especially if they can prove they are traveling for these reasons.

Without bringing evidence that they meet the requirements, DACA recipients cannot travel outside the U.S., and their application will be rejected. What’s more, it is not possible to travel for just any reason, like going on a trip for relaxation purposes or visiting a family member or friend. If you are a DACA recipient, you must make sure that you meet all the requirements to obtain the advance parole document.

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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.