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Traveling DREAMers: The Good and the Bad of Advance Parole

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

With the relative freedom Deferred Action gave to immigrant youth, many are expressing their desire or need to return to their countries. There are great stories of Dreamers visiting ailing grandparents or participating in academic conferences abroad, but there are also some bad stories of DACA recipients being denied re-entry, even with the required travel document.

Young people granted DACA cannot just travel like a U.S. citizen or legal resident would. They must follow a process to inform USCIS of their exit and be allowed to return lawfully without losing DACA benefits. This process is called Advance Parole.

DACA grantees need to request USCIS Advance Parole by filling out forms and receiving official confirmation it has been granted.

However, being granted Advance Parole does not guarantee return. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry can deny entrance to the U.S. People who have an outstanding order of removal or deportation should not exit without the advice of an immigration attorney who may be able to close past immigration proceedings based on the DACA grant, before submitting an application for Advance Parole. A DACA mother of three citizens being denied re-entry is an example of the perils of exiting the county even with an Advance Parole document.

So be conscientious of the implicit risk of exiting the U.S. while being DACA-mented.

DACA grantees are allowed to exit the country for the following reasons:

1. Humanitarian reasons. These include giving medical assistance to a family member, attending a family member’s funeral, visiting a sick relative, or some other urgent family-related matter.

2. Educational opportunities, including study abroad programs or academic presentations or research.

3. Employment opportunities, such client meetings, overseas assignments, job interviews with a foreign employer in the U.S., conferences, training and similar activities.

Sorry, Dreamers: Travel for vacation won’t be approved for DACA recipients.

To request Advance Parole:

1. Gather evidence to prove the need to travel. Document reasons to travel.

2. Complete the USCIS Form I-131 “Application for a Travel Document.”

For DACA recipients, select box 1.d in Part 2 (Application Type).

Specify the planned dates for travel and the reasons. Leave enough time for your return in case of unexpected travel delays.

Skip sections 5 and 6 on reentry permits and refugee travel documents.

3. Assemble your application packet with the following (double check detailed instructions by following this link):

a) Form I-131

b) Copy of DACA Notice of Action (Form I-797)

c) Your supporting evidence for reasons to travel

d) Include your filling fee of $360*

4. Mail your application package, checking the address here *

5. Keep a copy of your filing package for yourself and leave it with a trusted relative.

Consult a trusted lawyer if you were previously in deportation or removal proceedings, criminally charged or if you have questions or concerns. One example: Individuals with past convictions of drug possession may still be eligible for DACA, but inadmissible to enter the USA.

Have a safe trip!

*Always double check the latest version of the instructions at the USCIS site.