For those who have received deferred action under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there are many benefits that come along with being a DACA recipient. However, one question that often arises is whether or not DACA recipients are allowed to travel.
When it comes to DACA recipients traveling, they will need to obtain what is called advanced parole. Advanced parole is the legal permission granted by the U.S. government to allow noncitizens temporary travel outside of the country for valid and specific reasons. Upon re-entry, this permit will allow DACA recipients to enter the country lawfully.
There are various rules that go into obtaining an advance parole permit, which we will go over in detail in this article.
Can DACA Recipients Travel?
This answer is a bit more complex than a simple yes or no. However, DACA recipients can in fact travel. But in order to do so, they need to gain a travel authorization or DACA advance parole. Additionally, DACA recipients will only be able to obtain these permits if they are leaving the country for something very important or for the government.
DACA recipients are generally not allowed to travel for any reason.
Do DACA Recipients Need Travel Permits?
Yes, DACA recipients do need advance parole permits to travel internationally for a valid reason. However, when it comes to in-country travel, DACA recipients can travel freely in the U.S. DACA recipients can now travel to Puerto Rico and U.S. territories without needing a travel permit.
What Travel Permit Is Required for Traveling as a DACA Recipient?
There are a few reasons a DACA recipient can travel with a valid permit. The DACA advance parole requirement for travel must be any of the following reasons:
- Humanitarian purposes: These purposes can include traveling for medical assistance, attending family members or friends’ funerals, visiting a family member or friend that is sick, or for an urgent, family-related matter.
- Education purposes: If you are wishing to travel to study or continue your education, you can obtain a DACA travel permit.
- Employment purposes: If you are working at a job that requires travel, or overseas assignments, you will likely be able to get a permit to leave the country. Client meetings, conferences, training, or in-country travel will also fall under this category for a valid travel permit.
How to Apply for Advance Parole as a DACA Recipient
Applying for advance parole for DACA will take a few steps to complete and a few documents to fill out. In order to apply for travel permits as a DACA recipient, you must:
- Identify your reason for travel: As stated above, you must have a valid reason for travel outside of the U.S. When you have a valid reason for travel, you can then begin your application.
- Complete Form I-131: Form I-131, or an Application for Travel document, must be completed with accurate information first.
- Gather the required supporting documents: Then, you should gather all other required documents needed. These documents include copies of IDs, a copy of your approved DACA form, Form I-797, proof of family relationships if traveling for urgent family matters, evidence for your reasons for travel, two passport-style photos, and information about extended dates of travel if needed.
- Pay the fees: The required fees for your advance parole permit are $575, plus the additional $85 for a biometrics appointment.
- Prepare and send your application: Once your document is completed and you have the required paperwork in order, you can submit your application to USCIS and await their response.
- Receive your advance parole travel document: When USCIS has come to an answer, you will receive a document. This document is an authorization for the Parole of an Alien into the U.S. or Form I-512L. From there, you will need to bring this document with you when boarding transportation to travel abroad.
How Long Will It Take USCIS to Process Your DACA Advance Parole Request?
If you include all the necessary documents, you can expect to wait three to 30 months for your application to be processed, depending on which Service Center handles applications from your region. Generally, your request could take a few months to a full year to profess, meaning advanced planning is recommended.
In an emergency situation, such as an urgent family matter, you may be able to arrange faster processing or an in-person appointment with the USCIS by calling their Contact Center. To do so, you need to prove that your travel is imminent within the next 90 days.
You can also go through the Contact Center for an appointment if USCIS hasn’t acted on a request you’ve already filed, but beware: some people have been asked to file a new application and pay the fee once again.
Travel Tips for DACA Recipients
When you obtain this type of travel permit, there are still complications that can arise for DACA recipients. Here are some tips you can consider when traveling outside of the U.S.:
- Before you leave, it may be best to speak with a skilled immigration lawyer to consider what could go wrong and what you can do in an emergency.
- When applying for advance parole, state your return date as a few days before your actual expected return from your trip. This’ll allow you to re-enter the country in case of any travel delays. If you miss your return date, the government might not let you back into the country.
- Have a list of emergency contacts ready and a copy of your DACA paperwork with a trusted source in the U.S. This way, you will have a backup in case re-entering the U.S. brings about any unexpected trouble.
Can You Travel With an Expiring or Expired DACA Status?
If your DACA status expires while outside the country, you will lose your status. Re-entering the U.S. will be very difficult, and you will be denied in many cases. If your DACA is expiring soon, you need to renew it as soon as possible.
Once your DACA is renewed, you can apply for advanced travel parole permits.
Apply for a Travel Permit, Today!
The U.S. government began accepting initial DACA applications again in December 2020. Although DACA protects undocumented immigrants who entered the country before their 16th birthdays from deportation and offers them employment authorization to support themselves, applicants must file an advance parole request if they want to leave the country and return later.
If you are planning to leave the country or need to travel, you need to begin your application as soon as possible. ImmigrationDirect can greatly assist you when filling out your application because of our state-of-the-art immigration solution software. For more information, contact us today to get started.