This checklist includes tips for thinking ahead about your trip before you leave, some of which are specific to being undocumented. Keep in mind that these are only suggestions and you should pursue all the preparations (including consulting with legal professionals) that feel relevant to your particular situation before leaving the country on Advance Parole.
1. Research the location
- Do some research about your travel destination so that you know what to expect. You can do this by reading news stories from that country, watching travel vlogs, and talking to your friends and contacts who have visited or lived there. Consider some of the following:
- What are some of the cultural norms in the country where you’ll be staying? (e.g. kissing on the cheek as a greeting, removing shoes before entering someone’s home or office)
- What language or languages are spoken and what are some slang terms or regional expressions that might be relevant to your stay?
- What kind of transportation do people use to get around?
- What is the currency and the exchange rate?
- What is happening politically in the country right now? Are there social movements taking place that you need context on?
2. Schedule a consultation with a legal services provider
- Make sure to schedule a consultation 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. To prepare for your consultation, check out this checklist on page 9 of American University’s Advance Parole guide.
3. Request your passport and visa early
- Give yourself plenty of time to research what the passport requirements are for your country of birth and what steps you need to take to get your passport in time for your trip. Make sure it is up to date and that its expiration date is well after your trip. The same goes for securing a visa to your destination country. Do your research and submit the paperwork early.
4. Reach out to your networks
- Connect on social media, directly via text or email, or in person with people you know who have visited the places you are traveling to. Ask them for tips or suggestions of what to see and what to expect.
- Reach out to other undocumented friends or acquaintances who have traveled with Advance Parole. What kinds of preparations did they make before leaving? What advice do they have for you.
- Let your undocumented community know when and where you are traveling so that they can support you in case you should have difficulties with your travel plans or reentering the country.
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.
- A passport from your country of origin that is valid for at least six 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. to keep copies of all the documents listed above (including a photo copy of your Advance Parole document and your passport), and any other relevant information about your trip on hand, including your itinerary. These people can serve as a support team that you know will have your back in case anything happens while you are traveling.
- Create a plan to check in with them when you first arrive safely, periodically throughout your trip, and when you are returning. If they don’t hear from you within an agreed upon time frame, they should be prepared to call your lawyer or immigrant advocacy networks for support.
Silvia’s story: Setting up a support plan
Denea’s story: I gave everyone a file
7. Familiarize yourself with travel procedures like filling out Customs Forms
- Before your plane lands in another country, the flight attendants will pass out Customs Declaration Forms that you are required to fill out and present to Customs officers once you arrive. The purpose of these forms is to provide governments with basic information about who you are and what you are bringing into the country. Generally, you will have to fill out these forms when you’re arriving in another country and again once you return to the U.S.
- To get familiar with how to fill out this form properly, it’s a great idea to talk to an immigration attorney beforehand. Here’s an example of what the Mexican Customs Form looks like so you can get a sense for the questions you might have to answer on a trip.
Jesús’ story: Is immigration going to take me away?
Anjali’s story: When you have DACA, you don’t know what to declare
This resource is part of the Advance Parole project. To learn more, visit immigrantsrising.org/AP.Back to Resources