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.

Click the Arrows to Explore Topics

Topic 1: Is Advance Parole Right For Me?

“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

















This topic is designed to provide you with an overview of how Advance Parole (AP) works, what its requirements are, and how to determine if it is right for you.

Advance Parole Overview

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.

Weighing the Benefits and Risks 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.

Benefits

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.

Risks

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.

Reflection Prompts: Deciding Whether to Apply for Advance Parole

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.

  • What excites me about the prospect of traveling abroad? What experiences do I want to have? (It’s okay to include fantasies and dreams. Visioning requires bold imagination.)
  • What scares me about the prospect of traveling abroad? What fears do I have about traveling with Advance Parole or being in another country? What feels like the worst case scenario to me?
  • What is going on in my life right now that is influencing my thinking? What are my priorities, obligations, goals?
  • When I think about the possibility of applying for Advance Parole, which impulse is stronger: the one telling me to go? Or the one telling me to stay?
  • What parts of the Advance Parole process feel confusing or foreign to me? What do I need to research more in order to feel as informed as possible?
  • Who can I talk to about making this decision? Who can serve as a source of support for me throughout the process?

Accompanying Resources

Click here to access the following resource. Advance Parole: Frequently Asked Questions
Get a quick summary on how Advance Parole works.
Click here to access the following resource. Advance Parole: Weighing the Benefits and Risks
Learn what potential benefits and risks may be associated with traveling with Advance Parole.
Topic 2: Funding My Trip

“Financially, I just couldn’t afford to pay, so I found a creative way to fundraise.” — Ju, AP Recipient









There are many costs associated with Advance Parole that will vary depending on your situation, some of which include the $575 application fee, attorney fees, vaccinations or other health requirements, conference or program registration fees, airfare, travel insurance (to protect you in the case of unexpected changes to your travel plans), and lodging. While this can add up to a lot of money, there are many creative ways to cover these costs that fit your unique needs. This topic contains some examples of different ways Advance Parole recipients have funded their trips plus some tips on how to make the most of your money.

Work

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

Paid Educational Programs

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

Study Abroad Scholarships

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

Crowdfunding

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

Click here to see Ju’s fundraising letter for his trip to Korea. Ju used his time abroad to produce a short documentary film about his grandmother called Halmoni. Watch it here.

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:

Donations & Community Support

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

Topic 3: How to Apply for AP

“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









This topic is designed to help you navigate the Advance Parole application process. It includes checklists, links to resources, and example application materials. Please note that the materials in this section are meant to be starting points and examples, not an exact step-by-step guide or legal advice. Each application is unique and requires its own set of evidence and considerations, and in some cases, a consultation with an attorney to weigh the risks and benefits of applying for and traveling with Advance Parole. For help finding a legal services provider near you, visit immigrationlawhelp.org.

Alvaro’s Story: The holy grail of AP types

General Application Tips

1. Give yourself extra time. Consider adding a few additional days before and after your official trip dates to your parole request application to have a flexible window of time without running the risk of violating the terms of your Advance Parole, which could result in you getting stuck outside of the U.S.

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.

Alvaro’s Story: Think about all the opportunities
3. Make a strong case for yourself. It is important to approach the process with confidence and self assurance. Remember, you deserve to travel! If, for example, you are traveling to see a sick relative or attend funeral services, emphasize the urgency and gravity of the situation.

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.

Renata’s Story: I got a lawyer’s perspective

Sample Evidence Documents for the Advance Parole Application

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.

Accompanying Resources

Click here to access the following resource. Applying for Advance Parole: A Preliminary Checklist
Use this checklist to help you navigate the Advance Parole application process.
Topic 4: Preparing to Travel with AP

“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

















This topic is designed to familiarize you with what traveling with Advance Parole might be like and to help you prepare for your trip. It includes stories from Advance Parole recipients, a travel checklist, and conversation starters for talking through potential scenarios with friends, family, and fellow travelers. Taking the leap to travel as an undocumented person can feel extremely vulnerable. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, that’s okay! Take a deep breath. You can do this.

General Travel Preparation Tips

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.

1. Research the location. Do some research about your travel destination so that you know what to expect.

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.

Renata’s story: I feel safer being part of a network
5. Gather your documents. In order to be fully prepared for any questions you may receive from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) upon your reentry to the U.S. carry the following original documents with you:
  • A passport from your country of origin that is valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel
  • Your Advance Parole document
  • Evidence of reason for the trip abroad
  • Employment authorization card
  • A copy of your DACA approval notice
  • State I.D. or driver’s license
  • Relevant medical documents (e.g. immunization records, list of medications and diagnoses, etc.)
  • Your attorney’s business card with contact information
6. Form a support team and make a game plan. Choose a few trusted friends or family members in the U.S. who will keep copies of your travel and Advance Parole related documents, including your itinerary. Prepare them to call your lawyer or immigrant advocacy networks for support in case you run into issues trying to re-enter the U.S.
7. Familiarize yourself with travel procedures like filling out Customs Forms. Get familiar with the Customs Declaration Forms and other travel procedures that are required for your travel to and from abroad. If you have questions, it’s a good idea to consult with a legal services provider.
Jesús’ story: Is immigration going to take me away?

Anjali’s story: When you have DACA, you don’t know what to declare

Accompanying Resources

Click here to access the following resource. Advance Parole Travel Preparation Checklist
Check out these tips for preparing to travel with Advance Parole.
Click here to access the following resource. 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.
Topic 5: Being Abroad

“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

















Traveling abroad as an undocumented person can be both exciting and terrifying. It can offer you the opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones and your homeland, or thrust you into an environment that is completely new to you. This topic is a collection of stories from Advance Parole recipients about their experiences abroad. It is meant to offer you a range of perspectives on how Advance Parole travel can feel, the way that it could impact your perspective, and the possibilities that it has to offer you.

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

Reflection Prompts for Your Time Abroad

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.

  • What am I noticing about my surroundings?
  • What am I noticing about my body (energy level, sleep, appetite, pain, or other factors)?
  • What feels fun, exciting, joyful?
  • What feels surprising or different from what I expected? Are there any stereotypes, biases or beliefs that are being challenged right now?
  • What feels hard, overwhelming, or confusing?
  • What adjustments might I need to make so that I can take better care of myself and my mental health on this trip?

Accompanying Resources

Click here to access the following resource. 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.
Topic 6: Returning to the U.S.

“You change so much. You gather so many perspectives. You start questioning everything.” — Diana, AP recipient

















When you’re undocumented, returning to the States after traveling abroad can be a difficult and emotional transition. You may have felt temporarily free from the stress and trauma of your status, only to be reminded of it upon your return. You might be reckoning with a lot of changes in your perspective, struggling with how to share your experience with others, or considering whether you want to live outside the U.S long term. In some cases, you may be asked to share your story publicly or be held up as an example of what DACA recipients can achieve. Remember that your experiences are your own and you have the right to be selective about how and what you share. For more on this, check out our Storytellers Bill of Rights.

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

Reflection Prompts: Checking in with Yourself After Your Trip

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.

  • What things did I miss about my life in the U.S. while I was away? What feels good about returning?
  • What am I going to miss most about my time abroad? What feels hard about returning?
  • What was surprising about what I saw/felt/tried while I was abroad? What unexpected feelings came up for me?
  • What’s happening in my body right now (energy level, appetite, mood, sleep)?
  • Who can I talk to about how I am feeling who might be able to listen and understand? What other kinds of support do I need?

Accompanying Resources

Click here to access the following resource. 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.

Credits

  • Project Lead: Claire Calderón
  • Participants: Alvaro, Anjali, Diana, Denea, Estefania, Iliana, Jesús, Ju, Marisol, Renata, Silvia
  • Filmmakers: Claire Calderón, Grace Yeo
  • Legal Advisor: Marilia Zellner

For inquiries regarding this resource, please contact our Legal Services Team at legalintake@immigrantsrising.org.