Fellow, Legal Services Team, Staff
"I just remember the physical weight coming off of my shoulders"
If you are an undocumented person who dreams of traveling outside the U.S., you are not alone. Everyone deserves to move freely, without restrictions imposed by an unjust immigration system. Though it is far from a comprehensive solution for the millions of immigrants whose lives are limited by their status, for folks with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Advance Parole (AP) can be a great opportunity to experience what life is like outside the U.S.
This project is designed to acquaint DACA recipients with Advance Parole. The following 6 topics provide an overview of what Advance Parole is and how it works, how to fund your trip, the requirements of the application, preparing to travel, experiences abroad, and readjusting to life in the States. The topics consist of tips and checklists, reflection prompts, conversation starters, and audio stories from DACA recipients who have traveled outside the U.S. using Advance Parole.
The information in these topics is not legal advice. Remember that what works for some, may not work for everyone. Your circumstances are unique to you, and you should make sure to seek the additional resources, as well as community and legal support you need to determine if Advance Parole is a good fit.
“The broad reason I think all of us want to travel is we want to explore something outside of our space. We have this sense of adventure, of getting to know new people, new spaces, new languages, and in my case, I wanted to know what my home country looked like.” — Jesús, AP Recipient
Advance Parole (AP) is a document that grants temporary permission to certain immigrants to travel outside the U.S. and return lawfully. It must be requested before leaving the country and carried with you, along with other travel documents, while you travel.
Read Advance Parole: Frequently Asked Questions for a quick summary of Advance Parole.
Choosing to apply for and travel with Advance Parole is a big decision. It’s important to learn as much as you can about the process and consider all the advantages and drawbacks, in order to choose the path that’s right for you.
Anjali’s Story: Reconnecting with family
Jesús’ Story: Testing out life in Mexico
Iliana’s Story: Pursuing a research opportunity abroad
Diana’s Story: Defining freedom
Estefanía’s Story: Seeking a “lawful entry” back into the U.S.
Jesús’ Story: Risks involved in AP travel
Silvia’s Story: Going through Customs
Renata’s Story: Difficult interactions with CBP officers
We recommend reading through the Advance Parole: Weighing the Benefits & Risks resource to support you in considering the many factors involved in Advance Parole travel.
Use these prompts as a tool to weigh the benefits and risks of Advance Parole, and to reflect on whether this feels like the right time for you to apply.
“Financially, I just couldn’t afford to pay, so I found a creative way to fundraise.” — Ju, AP Recipient
If you are pursuing an opportunity to travel for work, your employer may be able to pay for some of the costs. You should make a list of expenses such as airfare and other transit, hotels/lodging, and food and then talk to your employer about who will be responsible for paying them. If you are open about your status at work, ask your employer to cover your Advance Parole application fee or legal fees.
Anjali’s Story: A job that required me to go to Japan
Some application-based travel programs will cover some or all of your travel costs (including your Advance Parole application fee) once you are accepted into the program.
Estefanía’s Story: A sponsored trip through Dreamers Without Borders
If you’re a student applying for Advance Parole in order to participate in a study abroad program, there may be scholarship opportunities available to you. Talk to staff at the study abroad office at your school or to professors in your department to learn about funding opportunities for academic travel available to you.
Marisol’s Story: There are scholarships out there
Denea’s Story: Utilize the resources at your disposal
Creating a campaign on a crowdfunding platform like Gofundme (for personal causes) or Kickstarter (for documentaries, performances, and other arts projects) can be a great way to raise the funds you need to cover your trip expenses while also honing your storytelling skills.
“Financially, I just couldn’t afford to pay, so I found a creative way to fundraise. I did a grassroots campaign. I wrote out all my goals and asked a bunch of people for support. I think that I was able to raise about $4,160 and that’s how I covered the whole trip.” — Ju, AP Recipient
|Tips for creating a strong crowdfunding campaign|
|Tell a story. Why are you traveling? Why is this trip important to you?|
|Be specific! How will the money be used? What perks, if any, will your donors get? For example, handwritten thank you notes, souvenirs from your travels, or a shout-out on social media.|
|Look for models of successful fundraising online. Here are some examples of crowdfunding campaigns for Advance Parole travel:|
You can also seek financial support from the groups of which you are already a part such as clubs, churches, alumni associations, and other community organizations. Find out if there is an existing culture of collecting donations to fund one another’s projects or endeavors. Sometimes just by letting your community know about your travel plans, you can become the beneficiary of their support without having to make a formal ask.
Denea’s Story: My community knew what to do
“Think outside the box about the different opportunities that there may be, whether it’s a work program, or an educational program, or even a family member getting old.” — Alvaro, Advance Parole Recipient
Alvaro’s Story: The holy grail of AP types
2. Think outside the box. It’s ok if your reasons for traveling do not fit neatly into one of the 3 categories. Build a strong case for yourself by emphasizing the significance of the opportunity and why you are uniquely suited to pursue it.
4. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread! Ask friends, advisors, or trusted legal professionals look over your application for accuracy before you submit it. Make sure all the information is correct and you have included all the application materials, including the required fees.
5. When in doubt, consult a legal professional. A lawyer can help you understand your specific situation, such as risks you might be facing, and help you navigate the application process. You can also check out online resources created by immigration attorneys such as this video or other guides from reputable organizations like United We Dream.
Below are some examples of evidence documents included in the applications of past Advance Parole recipients. Keep in mind that these materials are only intended to illustrate how other Advance Parole applicants have chosen to approach the application. They are not intended to serve as templates and adopting them does not guarantee that your application will be approved. Each person’s situation is unique and circumstances of admission differ depending on many factors.
|Applying for Advance Parole: A Preliminary Checklist
Use this checklist to help you navigate the Advance Parole application process.
“That should be a normal thing for someone to be able to hop on a flight and go to a place of their choice because that’s something that they want to do. That should be normal. I felt normal.” — Denea, AP Recipient
The following are only suggestions and we encourage you to pursue all the preparations (including consulting with legal professionals) that feel relevant to your particular situation before leaving the country on Advance Parole. For an expanded version of this list, read our Advance Parole Travel Preparation Checklist.
2. Schedule a consultation with a legal services provider. Consult with a legal services provider, especially if you have never had an immigration screening, have left and re-entered the U.S. on multiple occasions or have had contact with the criminal legal system. To find an immigration legal services provider near you, visit immigrationlawhelp.org or AILAlawyer.com.
3. Request your passport and visa early. Give yourself plenty of time to gather required documents and apply for your passport and visa before your trip.
4. Reach out to your networks. Get tips and suggestions from folks who have visited the places you are traveling to, especially those who have traveled with Advance Parole.
Denea’s story: I gave everyone a file
Anjali’s story: When you have DACA, you don’t know what to declare
|Advance Parole Travel Preparation Checklist
Check out these tips for preparing to travel with Advance Parole.
|Conversation Starters: Talking to Friends and Family about My Trip
Use this resource for support initiating conversations with your loved ones about traveling abroad with Advance Parole.
“Having been to a different country gave me this confidence that I can’t only thrive in the U.S.—I can thrive anywhere.” — Silvia, AP recipient
Iliana’s story: I’m finally home
Jesús’ story: I was scared to step foot on land
Anjali’s story: When my grandmother saw me, I broke down
Silvia’s story: I can thrive anywhere
Diana’s story: I was just existing
Estefanía’s story: I saw my ability to blend
Denea’s story: You all are American
Iliana’s story: My parents longed to go back to Mexico
Marisol’s story: You never know when you meet love
Ju’s story: I’ve been overwhelmed with guilt
Jesús’ story: The whole experience was super empowering
The following prompts are designed to encourage you to reflect on your experience abroad as it is unfolding and help you process your feelings. You can use them as a jumping off point, but it is always a good idea to seek additional support like therapy or support groups. Explore some of your options on our mental health page.
|Reflection Prompts for Your Time Abroad
Use these prompts to reflect on your experience and process your feelings as you are abroad on Advance Parole.
“You change so much. You gather so many perspectives. You start questioning everything.” — Diana, AP recipient
This topic is designed to support you in navigating the emotional impact of returning to the U.S. after traveling with Advance Parole. It includes stories from AP recipients and reflection prompts for looking back on your experience.
Diana’s story: You change so much, you start questioning everything
Jesús’ story: I felt much more free
Renata’s story: I didn’t know how to cope
Renata’s story: My friends were cold
Denea’s story: Back to having to prove that you belong
Below are some prompts you can use to reflect on your transition back to the U.S. after your time abroad on Advance Parole. You can use them to privately process your trip or as conversation starters when talking to friends and family about your experiences.
|Reflection Prompts: Checking in with Yourself After Your Trip
Use these prompts to reflect on your transition back to the U.S. after your time abroad on Advance Parole.
For inquiries regarding this resource, please contact our Legal Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.