Can DACA Recipients Travel? Navigating the Complexities of International Travel

Updated on April 10, 2024

For many Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, the question of whether they can travel internationally is a complex and often confusing one. While DACA provides temporary protection from deportation and grants work authorization, it does not automatically confer travel privileges. However, there are certain circumstances under which DACA recipients may be able to travel abroad.

30 Second Recap:

DACA recipients can travel internationally only with Advance Parole, which is granted for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes. Travel without Advance Parole can result in losing DACA status and facing re-entry bars. Domestic travel within the U.S. is generally less problematic, but proper identification is necessary. The future of DACA and travel remains uncertain, and comprehensive immigration reform is needed to provide a clear path to citizenship and the ability to travel freely.

Advance Parole: The Key to International Travel

The primary way for DACA recipients to travel internationally is through Advance Parole. This document, issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), allows certain non-citizens, including DACA recipients, to leave the United States and re-enter lawfully. To be eligible for Advance Parole, DACA recipients must demonstrate that their international travel falls under one of three categories: humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes.

Risks and Considerations

While Advance Parole offers a legal pathway for international travel, it is not without risks. DACA recipients should carefully consider the potential consequences of leaving the United States, even with Advance Parole. Changes in immigration policies, global events, or individual circumstances could impact their ability to re-enter the country. It is essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before making any travel plans.

Travel Without Advance Parole

Traveling internationally without Advance Parole is generally not advisable for DACA recipients. Doing so can result in losing DACA status and facing significant difficulties when attempting to re-enter the United States. In some cases, DACA recipients who travel without Advance Parole may be subject to the 3- or 10-year bars on re-entry, depending on the duration of their unlawful presence in the U.S.

Domestic Travel

While international travel for DACA recipients is complicated, domestic travel within the United States is generally less problematic. DACA recipients can travel freely between states without jeopardizing their status. However, it is crucial to carry proper identification, such as a valid work permit (EAD) and a state-issued ID or driver’s license, to avoid potential issues.

Final Thoughts

As the future of DACA remains uncertain, it is essential for recipients to stay informed about any changes in immigration policies that may affect their ability to travel. Comprehensive immigration reform is necessary to provide DACA recipients with a clear path to citizenship and the ability to travel internationally without fear of losing their status or being denied re-entry.

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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.

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