This guide contains information on advance parole and what to expect before, during, and after traveling abroad.
USCIS continues to accept and adjudicate advance parole applications filed by DACA recipients.
*The September 13, 2o23 order from the Southern District of Texas and the ongoing DACA litigation has not stopped USCIS from issuing advance parole documents to 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 its 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), T and U visa holders, and most applicants who have already applied for a green card. In this guide, we will discuss advance parole for DACA recipients.
The following chart suggests some forms of evidence that can help applicants with DACA demonstrate their valid purpose for traveling abroad on advance parole. 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).
Make two copies of your entire application. Keep a set with you and leave one with your 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. Please see our guide on emergency advance parole.
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.
Yes, you can include multiple reasons for which you need to travel.
Yes, this falls under a humanitarian purpose for traveling. Many people who did not have the opportunity to attend their family members’ funerals would like to visit their graves. This reason is not time-limited or limited to immediate family members; however, it is important to describe why this visit falls under a humanitarian purpose.
If the relative is more distant, you should describe why this relationship was so important (e.g. an aunt who raised you when you were a child). If their death was a long time ago, explain why you were unable to attend until now (e.g. you were a child, you didn’t have DACA, COVID made travel unsafe, etc.).
Yes! DACA recipients can request to travel abroad for medical reasons, which falls under the humanitarian travel purpose.
If the DACA recipient needs to travel abroad for their own medical reason, they should submit documentation from their doctor or dentist with their diagnosis, the treatment required, and how long it will take. They should also provide evidence, such as their own statement, on why they can’t obtain the specific medical treatment in the U.S., such as lack of health insurance or unaffordability.
If this is an urgent situation and you need advance parole immediately, see this guide.
Yes, DACA recipients may travel abroad to care for a relative who is undergoing a medical procedure. In this scenario, they should provide a letter from the relative’s doctor explaining when the procedure will take place and whether a caregiver is required. The DACA recipient should explain in their statement why they need to be a caregiver in this situation.
If this is an urgent situation and you need advance parole immediately, see this guide.
No. DACA recipients can only travel for educational, employment, and humanitarian purposes.
The Form I-131 instructions (see pp. 10-11) lists what documents an advance parole applicant should attach to their application and provides some suggestions of acceptable evidence. For the specific purpose of traveling (educational, employment, or humanitarian), it really depends on the reason!
It helps to think through the “who, what, when, where, and why” of your travel plans. Do you have evidence to answer each of those questions? It is especially important to include the time frame for the travel and why you need that period of time.
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:
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.
Preparing to leave the U.S. with advance parole is CRUCIAL! 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. You MUST pack your original advance parole document along with other important documents. Otherwise, you may not be allowed back in the U.S. Carry your original:
Also 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 be aware of your rights.
Yes, your U.S. citizen child will need a passport to travel. You can make an appointment to get your child’s passport through the U.S. Postal Service website. Making your child’s passport may take several months.
As with all travel, there is a risk. In this case, if there are medical complications or the baby arrives early, there is a risk that you may not be able to re-enter the U.S. within the time frame that your advance parole document allows.
Returning to the U.S. by Air. If you enter through a U.S. airport, you will pass through U.S. Immigration and Customs. You will be processed in the “Visitor” 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.
What to consider before reentry:
A CBP officer will ask questions about your trip abroad when you are re-entering the U.S., such as:
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. If you have concerns about these lines of questioning, please consult with an immigration attorney prior to traveling.
After processing, the border official will hand you back your original forms of identification. They will stamp the advance parole document and your passport.
In many cases, the border official will keep the original advance parole document; the stamp in your passport will serve as proof of re-entry through parole.
You may also obtain your I-94 online through the CBP website. Keep copies of your advance parole document, entry stamp in your passport, and I-94 printout as they will be useful to you when renewing DACA and in future immigration processes.
Anxiety about traveling and re-entering is very real! The best thing you can do is prepare for what to expect by reading about the process, speaking with other DACA recipients who have traveled on advance parole, and arranging support.
This may mean discussing a plan ahead of time with your attorney, if you have one, and carrying their form G-28 with you when you travel. You can also contact your Congressional representative to explain your situation and ask for a contact at their office in case you run into problems at the border.
Yes, this is a very real possibility, although it is still a contested area of law. Immigration officials at the border have a lot of power to search your belongings, including your electronic devices.
Because the decision to parole someone into the U.S. is discretionary, it is risky for a DACA recipient to refuse to hand over their phone or argue with an immigration official. It is best for travelers to anticipate that their phone may be searched and to prepare ahead of time to keep their information private.
When you fly back to the United States, it is most likely the airline will have you complete check-in in person and not online.
When you go up to the counter the airline attendants may ask to see your U.S. visa or green card, this is when you let them know you are traveling with advance parole. They may ask to see your document. Make sure the airline doesn’t keep your original advance parole document, you will need to show CBP upon re-entering the United States.
Some airlines are not aware of what advance parole is so it may take some time for them to validate this. Ensure you go to the airport with enough time in case it takes long for them to check.
Passport Control Outside the U.S.
If you have a connecting flight outside the U.S. you may go through “Passport Control.” Once again, they may ask for your U.S. visa or green card. Let them know that you reside in the U.S. and are traveling with advance parole, a special document issued by the U.S. government that allows you to re-enter the U.S. Depending on the agent they may ask to see the advance parole document. Ensure you have enough time to complete this so that you don’t miss your connecting flight. Make sure they don’t keep your original advance parole document, you will need to show CBP upon re-entering the United States.
No. At this time, DACA recipients must mail in their advance parole applications.
If you are getting a document translated it must be accompanied by a certificate of translation. Although advance parole applications are not filed before the immigration court, their template can be used for filings with USCIS. See the template here. Any person who is fluent in Spanish and English and can translate between the two languages can translate your document and sign the certificate.
No. USCIS does not refund fees, regardless of any action they take on your application.
Any time a DACA recipient changes their residence, they should complete a Form AR-11. This is especially important if the DACA recipient is requesting emergency advance parole in-person at a USCIS field office. If a previous address outside the field office’s jurisdiction is on file, the field officers may want to see that an AR-11 was filed.
If you lost the Form I-512L advance parole document, then you will have to refile the application with the fee. You can note that an advance parole document was previously issued but lost. Same goes for any mistakes in names or dates that were present on your I-131 application; however, if USCIS is responsible for the typo or erroneous dates, you do not have to pay the filing fee.
You can also use USCIS’s online tools to put in a service request if the document was lost in the mail. If you can show a USCIS error (e.g. they mailed the advance parole document to a different address than the one you put on the I-131 form), this may be helpful. However, USCIS may not respond to this service request for several weeks.
If you are close to your intended travel date and there is an emergency, you may request an InfoPass appointment at your local USCIS field office. For more information see this guide.
Everyone’s case is different and everyone assumes different risks. If you are scheduling an appointment with an attorney, ask them if they regularly apply for advance parole for DACA recipients. For more tips on how to find a good immigration lawyer, see this guide.
You must respond to USCIS’s Request for Evidence (RFE) by the stated deadline. Failure to do so will result in a denial of your application. USCIS may send an RFE if your intended date of travel has passed. If you are flexible with your plans, you may request new dates and offer updated evidence (e.g. flexible study abroad program, ongoing health needs of relative abroad, etc.).
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.
When filing a DACA renewal, you must respond to the questions that ask about travel. You should attach copies of your advance parole document, entry stamp in your passport, and a printout of your Form I-94 that you can obtain online.
If a DACA recipient entered without inspection by an immigration official, they are not able to apply for a green card in the U.S. (the “adjustment of status” process) and will have to travel to their home country to have an interview at a U.S. consulate there (“consular processing”).
If a DACA recipient travels on advance parole and is paroled back into the country, they may then go through the adjustment of status process in the U.S. and obtain their green card without leaving the U.S.
Make sure to speak to an attorney about your specific case and if advance parole is the best option for you. See this guide for help on where to find a lawyer.
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