Advance Parole: Weighing the Benefits and Risks

Themes/Topics: Law & Policy

Geography: California, National

Audience: Undocumented Youth

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. Some people have successfully traveled with Advance Parole without an attorney, but to get low-cost legal advice to help you make your decision, or to help applying, search for a nonprofit immigration law office near you at:


Traveling with AP has several benefits and can create new opportunities that might not otherwise be available to you, such as:


Traveling while undocumented always involves some risk, and Advance Parole is not an exception. Some of the risks include, but are not limited to:

  • Not being able to return.
    Advance Parole approval does not guarantee that you will be allowed to re-enter the United States. Individuals must be “admissible” in order to re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad. Admissibility is a term that is defined within U.S. immigration law and refers to a non-citizen entry by inspection into the United States. There are many reasons why someone can be found “inadmissible.” One of the most common reasons is that they have a previous removal (deportation) order, sometimes without the person’s knowledge. Also, certain criminal convictions, even if they have been expunged, dismissed or occurred long ago, could present problems. For more information about inadmissibility and the potential risks of traveling abroad, check out American University’s guide on traveling for educational purposes with Advance Parole.

    The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport or port of entry has the final say on whether to allow you to re-enter. If possible, talk to a legal representative before you leave to understand all the risks involved.
    Jesús’ Story: Risks involved in AP travel

    Silvia’s Story: Going through Customs

  • Negative interaction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
    It is likely that when you are returning to the U.S. from your trip, you will be flagged for what’s called “secondary inspection.” That means, you’ll be brought to a separate room to be interviewed by a CBP officer. This experience can be anxiety-inducing and in some cases, traumatic. (For more on what to expect from this process see Topic 4 the “Preparing to Travel with AP” section under our Advance Parole Travel Guide at
    Renata’s Story: Difficult interactions with CBP officers
  • Overall emotional toll.
    Traveling outside the country as an undocumented person is very vulnerable and it can have a lasting mental and emotional impact on you. Some emotions that may come up include extreme stress, fear, familial or other relationship tensions, depression, and isolation. As you’re deciding whether or not Advance Parole is right for you, remember that you are not alone and that any and all feelings that may come up for you throughout the process are real and valid.

Reflection Prompts: Considering 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?

This resource is part of the Advance Parole project. To learn more, visit

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