Traveling with Advance Parole in 2022

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Introduction

This guide contains information on advance parole and what to expect before, during, and after traveling abroad.

In December of 2020, a federal court ordered the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to begin accepting advance parole applications again. You can read the full order here.

*The July 16, 2021 order from the Southern District of Texas does not affect advance parole for current DACA recipients. If that should change, USCIS will provide updated information.

Advance parole is a procedure by which certain noncitizens receive permission to reenter the U.S. after temporarily traveling abroad. This is a process that is part of the government’s broader authority to parole (or allow someone into the U.S.) based on their discretion.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues an advance parole travel document to travelers before they depart the U.S. While these travelers may use this document to travel back to the U.S., entry to the U.S. is dependent upon the discretion of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is an office within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), adjudicates applications for advance parole.

Advance parole is an option for certain noncitizens within the U.S. This includes recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), recipients of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), and most applicants who have already applied for a green card. In this guide, we will discuss advance parole for DACA recipients.

Yes. USCIS is accepting and adjudicating applications for advance parole for current DACA recipients. Please note that applicants cannot file their DACA renewal applications and advance parole applications at the same time.

  1. You must have your current DACA, employment authorization document (EAD), and passport at the time that you apply for advance parole.
    • You cannot apply for advance parole while your DACA application is pending or if your DACA, employment authorization document (EAD), has expired. You must have a valid, unexpired passport from your country of citizenship to travel internationally.
  2. You must have a qualifying reason to travel abroad.
    • USCIS instructions for the advance parole application state that DACA recipients can only travel abroad for education, employment, or humanitarian purposes.
      • Education purposes include, but are not limited to
        • Study abroad programs or academic research
      • Employment purposes include, but are not limited to
        • Overseas assignments, conferences, interviews, trainings, or client meetings
      • Humanitarian purposes include, but are not limited to
        Seeking medical treatment, visiting an ailing relative, or attending funeral services for a family member.
    • Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of examples. If the purpose for why you are seeking to travel is not listed, we suggest that you consult with a legal service provider. They may be able to help you understand how your travel fits within a valid purpose.
  3. Consult with a legal service provider before applying for advance parole.
    • Before you apply for advance parole, you should consider consulting with a legal service provider to determine risk and eligibility based on your legal situation.
    • It is especially important to discuss with a legal service provider if any of the following apply:
      • Prior deportation case in immigration court
      • Contact with the criminal legal system (arrests, charges, or convictions), even if it did not make you ineligible for DACA
      • Multiple prior entries to the U.S. without permission to re-enter
      • Immigration-related fraud or misrepresentation to the government

How do I apply for advance parole?

  1. Write a cover letter explaining the purpose of travel and summarizing the documents included in your application (see example)
  2. Fill out the advance parole application: USCIS Form I-131 (Read the instructions carefully!)
  3. Write a statement explaining purpose of travel
  4. Gather evidence supporting purpose of travel (see chart below)
    • For additional help in determining what sorts of documents to provide as evidence supporting your reason to travel, see the “General Requirements” portion of the USCIS instructions, on Page 8 at 1.c.(5).
  5. A copy of your most recent DACA Approval Notice (USCIS Form I-797)
  6. A copy of your Employment Authorization Document
  7. Two passport-sized photos
  8. Application Fee (currently $575) personal check, cashier’s check or money order payable to the “Department of Homeland Security” or via USCIS credit card form G-1450. For the latest USCIS fees, visit their website.

The following chart suggests some forms of evidence that can help applicants with DACA demonstrate their valid purpose for traveling abroad on advance parole.

Educational
Applicants should show why the travel abroad is “required” or “beneficial.” Applicants should provide official documentation confirming their enrollment in an educational program or course of study.

  • Official letter from the educational program confirming enrollment, describing the purpose and dates of the program, and explaining how the program is “required” or “beneficial” for the applicant
  • Document showing enrollment in the course(s) registered;
  • Syllabi;
  • Acceptance letter from the university and/or overseas institution or program;
  • Any program-specific documents
  • Letter from professor(s) describing academic research to be conducted
Employment
Applicants should show how the travel abroad fulfills their job requirements.

  • Letter from employer detailing how this travel is required for the applicant
  • Conference program showing applicant’s name as speaker or confirmation of conference registration as an attendee
  • Invitation to speak at conference/training
  • Emails or other communication showing need for applicant to be present at an interview or meeting abroad
Humanitarian
Applicants should show how the travel is for humanitarian purposes. Common humanitarian reasons for traveling are obtaining necessary medical treatment for oneself, visiting an ailing (very sick) relative or assisting an ailing relative who has an upcoming medical treatment; attending a family member’s funeral; or visiting a recently deceased family member’s grave.

  • Documentation from dental or medical professional showing the need for treatment
  • Letter from a medical professional and hospital documenting ill relative’s condition
  • Identity document of ailing family member
  • Birth certificate showing relationship with ill family member
  • Death certificate of a family member
  • Applicant’s own statement explaining the need for travel
  • Family member’s statement explaining the need for travel

Make a copy of all documents on your application to keep a set with you, and leave one with someone you trust, such as an attorney or family member. Be sure to travel with all of your original documents for re-entry into the U.S.

You can submit your complete Form I-131 and supporting documents to USCIS by mail. You can find out the specific direct filing address to use by visiting the USCIS website and clicking on the “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” subheading.

If you are experiencing an extremely urgent situation, you may request an emergency advance parole appointment at your local field office through the USCIS Contact Center, under in-person services (call 800-375-5283). This type of appointment is sometimes referred to as an InfoPass appointment. You must tell the representative on the phone that you are seeking an appointment for “emergency advance parole.” The representative will schedule a call back and you must keep your phone by you to receive the call.

Bring to your appointment all the documents listed under the “How do I apply for advance parole?” section in this guide. Emergency advance parole requests are typically granted or denied at the time of the InfoPass appointment.

If you are not traveling for emergency reasons, it is recommended that you submit your application more than six months before your desired date of travel. Processing times are unpredictable and vary.

Risks of Traveling Abroad

The advance parole document authorizes parole, but the decision to parole (or allow someone to physically enter the U.S.) is up to the discretion of a CBP officer at a port of entry. That could be either at the border or an airport. Certain circumstances may heighten the risk of being denied entry. It is important to consider the risks and be prepared for any potential situations that may arise.

Risk Factors to Consider:

  1. Traveling outside the parole date authorized by the advance parole document
  2. Traveling when DACA authorization (reflected on the dates on your employment authorization document (EAD) has expired
  3. Prior deportation or “voluntary departure” order
  4. Multiple prior periods of unlawful presence in the U.S.
  5. Contacts with the criminal system — whether they resulted in a conviction or not — that could lead to an “inadmissibility” finding

If any of these apply to you or you are not sure, always consult with an immigration attorney prior to traveling or applying for advance parole.

  1. DACA Renewal: Trouble renewing DACA because you traveled outside of the advance parole dates or traveled with an expired DACA.
  2. Permanent Bar: If a person was deemed inadmissible under the “permanent bar” and denied entry into the U.S., they might be able to apply for permission to re-enter the U.S. after being outside the country for 10 years.
  3. Waiver for future Adjustment of Status: If a person was deemed inadmissible due to contact with the criminal justice system and denied entry into the U.S., they would need a waiver to legally re-enter in the future.
  4. Adjustment of Status v. consular processing: If a DACA recipient initially entered the U.S. without inspection, traveling abroad on advance parole may have a positive effect on future immigration applications. If such a person is applying for a green card, they would generally have to complete the application at a U.S. Consulate in their home country, a process known as consular processing. With an entry on Advance Parole, a DACA recipient would be able to complete the green card “adjustment of status” process in the U.S.
  5. Hinge future residency on physical presence in the US: If there’s any legislation for pathway to citizenship that is contingent on someone’s physical presence in the U.S. on a specific date. (e.g. DACA, that requires an individual to prove that they were in the U.S. on June 15, 2012). If someone is not physically present on that date, there might be a small risk that they would not be eligible.

Re-Entering the U.S. on Advance Parole

When you return to the United States, you will go through Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection where you will be questioned by a CBP officer. Carry the original copies of the documents listed below, as well as a copy of your advance parole application. Ensure you are prepared for any questions from CBP and aware of your rights.

  • A current, valid passport from your country of origin
  • Your original advance parole document
  • Employment authorization card (EAD)
  • A copy of your most recent DACA approval notice
  • State ID or driver’s license
  • Student ID (if applicable)
  • Evidence of the stated, valid travel purpose (e.g. relevant medical documents, educational coursework, conference materials, etc.)
  • (If you have an attorney) Attorney’s Form G-28 and their business card with contact information

Returning to the U.S. by Air. If you enter through a U.S. airport, you will pass through the U.S. Immigration and Customs. You will be processed in the “Visitor” or “Resident” line, and you can ask an officer once you’re there if you are not sure. It is likely that a Customs and Border Protection officer will escort you to a separate room for secondary screening. There, a CBP officer may ask additional questions, check your belongings (including electronics), and finish processing your re-entry.

Returning to the U.S. by Land. If you travel to the United States by land (such as by car over the U.S.-Canada border or U.S.-Mexico border), you will have to present your advance parole and supporting documents. They may ask you to park your vehicle and step inside the inspection building to complete the U.S. admission process.

In either case, whether you enter the U.S. via air or land, be sure that you have all of your original documents ready with you for processing and any questions from CBP. Keep in mind that this process can take up to several hours.

What to consider before reentry:

  • Since the U.S. admission process may take up to several hours due to different factors, be as prepared as possible. This includes:
    • Consider the destination of your returning flight based on previous DACA recipients’ experiences with CBP in certain locations. You will go through the inspection process at the first airport you land in the U.S.
    • Try to not book a layover so you don’t have to worry about missing a second flight. If this is not possible, be sure to give yourself additional time for any subsequent airline connections.
    • Make a list of all emergency contacts — hard copy, not on the phone. Try to have an immigration attorney or congressional staffer in your district as an emergency contact. Carry their business card(s) if possible.
    • Let a family member(s) know of your anticipated time of departure and arrival before traveling since you may not be allowed to use your cell phone until you clear customs.
    • Use the restroom before inspection and keep water and snacks with you.

A CBP officer will ask questions about your trip abroad when you are re-entering the U.S., such as:

  • What was the reason for your trip abroad?
  • For how long were you gone?
  • Did you purchase anything while you were abroad? If so, what did you purchase?
  • What countries did you visit?
  • Where did you stay?
  • What documents do you have with you?
  • What do you do in the U.S.? (e.g., work, school, etc.)

If you have any prior tickets or arrests (even those that didn’t result in convictions), CBP might question you about the circumstances of those incidents. CBP may also question you about your immigration history, including when and how you initially entered the U.S.

After processing, they will hand you back your original forms of identification and a stamped copy of your advance parole document or a stamp in your passport. This is evidence that you complied with the terms of your advance parole. Be sure to keep this proof of re-entry as you will need it to renew your DACA and it will be useful to you in future immigration processes.

COVID Considerations before Traveling

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. imposed a ban on flights from several countries and later required proof of vaccination and negative COVID tests. These rules have changed periodically during the pandemic.

Before traveling, check the CDC’s Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the United States frequently for changing rules and requirements.

Additionally, as of December 2, 2021 there is a requirement that travelers have viral tests within one day of reentering the U.S. This could be problematic if an individual’s test is positive and they are unable to travel into the U.S. during the time that is authorized in the advance parole document. For the latest information on the requirements for proof of a negative COVID-19 test result or vaccination record, visit the CDC’s Required Testing before Air Travel to the US page.

Plan ahead:

For more information on the COVID-19 requirements in the U.S. and other countries, visit the CDC’s International Travel for U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants page.

Additional resources

Additional FAQ

No. USCIS does not refund fees, regardless of any action they take on your application.

No. Your employment authorization document (EAD), or DACA, must be valid and unexpired at the time that you submit your application for I-131 Travel Document, or Advance Parole. It is suggested that you apply for advance parole after your DACA renewal request has been approved.

No. DACA recipients can only travel for educational, employment, and humanitarian purposes. Emergency advance parole documents are also granted on a case-by-case basis.

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