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 those who qualify, Advance Parole (AP) can be a great opportunity to experience what life is like outside the U.S.
This project is designed to acquaint you with Advance Parole, and what to expect from the process if you choose to pursue it. The following 6 modules provide an overview of what Advance Parole is and how it works, how to fund your trip, the application requirements, what to expect while traveling, experiences abroad, and readjusting to life in the States. The modules consist of tips and checklists, reflection prompts, conversation starters, and stories from undocumented individuals who have traveled outside the U.S. using Advance Parole.
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.
Is Advance Parole Right For Me?
This module 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 travel document that allows certain immigrants to return lawfully after traveling outside the U.S. It must be requested before leaving the country and carried with you, along with other travel documents, while you travel. For more info, read our Advance Parole: Frequently Asked Questions.
Advance Parole Categories & Examples
Visiting sick or aging relatives
Seeking medical assistance
Attending funeral services
Other urgent family-related purposes
Study abroad programs
Academic research, competitions, or conferences
Overseas assignments for your job
Professional conferences, trainings, or meetings
Self-employment or entrepreneurial activities (provide proof of your self-employment)
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. We recommend reading through the Advance Parole: Weighing the Benefits & Risks to help you think through your benefits and risks.
Listen to Anjali talk about reconnecting with family.
Listen to Jesus talk about testing out life in Mexico.
Listen to Iliana talk about the research opportunity she pursued.
Listen to Diana talk about how traveling abroad changed her perspective she pursued.
Listen to Estefania talk about how her reason for going abroad included having a “lawful entry” back to the U.S.
Listen to Jesus talk about how he weighed the risks of travel by participating in an on-campus legal screening.
Listen to Silvia talk about her fear about going through Customs.
Listen to Renata describe her difficult experiences interacting with CBP officers.
“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, 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 module 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.
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.
Paid Educational Programs
Some application-based travel programs, such as the U.S.-Mexico Foundation will cover all your travel costs (including your Advance Parole application fee) once you are accepted into the program.
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.
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.
(Option 1 modified: Same look as module 1, but different format for the module content/resource page.)
Learn about the Advance Parole application and some tips on how to make yours as strong as possible.
This module 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.
Listen to Alvaro, a two-time Advance Parole recipient talk about how he approached both of his applications.
General Application Tips
1. Give yourself extra time
When choosing the dates of travel to include on your application, consider adding a few additional days before and after your official trip dates so that in case of delays, missed flights, or other unexpected circumstances, you have a flexible window of time to leave and return without running the risk of violating the terms of your Advance Parole.
2. Think outside the box
Your situation or reasons for traveling may not fit neatly into one of the 3 categories. That’s ok! Be creative about how you build a strong case for yourself. Emphasize the significance of the opportunity and why you are uniquely suited to pursue it.
Listen to Alvaro talk about how to overcome potential roadblocks in the Advance Parole application process
3. Make a strong case for yourself
Though the Advance Parole application can feel intimidating, 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!
Enlist the help of friends, advisors, or trusted legal professionals to look over your application for accuracy before you submit it. Make sure your full name and contact information are consistent and correctly spelled throughout, that your signature appears in all the necessary places, and that you include the required fees.
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.
Sample I-131 Form
Sample Program Participation Letter (Education/Study Abroad)