Potential Risks and Consequences
DACA recipients considering travel outside the U.S. must be aware of the inherent risks involved, which can lead to dire consequences including the possibility of being barred from re-entry, jeopardizing DACA status, and facing legal charges.
Travel Ban Risks
When a DACA recipient travels abroad, they must obtain advance parole which typically permits re-entry to the U.S. However, if a travel ban is instituted while they are outside the country, these individuals might not be allowed to return. This could occur due to rapid changes in immigration policy or unforeseen geopolitical events.
DACA Renewal Complications
Travel outside of the United States without advance parole before DACA expiration can complicate the renewal process. This includes the risk of being deemed to have abandoned their DACA status, making it difficult or impossible to renew their protections upon attempting to return.
Legal Implications of Overstay
If a DACA recipient overstays the period authorized by advance parole, they may face serious legal implications. They might be placed in removal proceedings or be subject to other penalties, such as being banned from future entry to the United States for a specified duration, typically three to ten years, depending on the length of the overstay.
Legal and Policy Updates
This section outlines the essential legislative framework governing travel for DACA recipients and recent policy adjustments affecting their mobility.
Current Immigration Laws
Under the current immigration laws, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, also known as Dreamers, can apply for advance parole, a special travel authorization that allows them to leave and re-enter the United States without jeopardizing their status. Criteria for granting advance parole include but are not limited to travel for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes.
Recent Changes to DACA Policy
A significant policy adjustment took place in December 2020 when a federal court order reinstated the acceptance of new DACA applications and required the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process DACA travel authorizations, commonly known as advance parole, under guidelines similar to those in place before September 2017. These changes reinstated the potential for DACA recipients to travel abroad for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
Pre-Travel Preparation and Tips
Before DACA recipients travel outside of the United States, they must ensure that they have taken the necessary steps to safeguard their status and prepare for their trip and reentry.
Consulting an Immigration Attorney
Crucial Step: DACA recipients are strongly advised to consult with an immigration attorney before planning any international travel. An attorney can provide personalized advice based on the individual’s specific case and protect their rights.
Understanding Your Rights
Travel Authorization: Individuals must obtain travel authorization, known as Advance Parole, before leaving the U.S. They should be aware that travel is generally permitted for humanitarian, educational, or employment reasons. Understanding the limitations and consequences of traveling without approval is essential.
Planning for Reentry
Documentation: Upon planning their return to the U.S., DACA recipients must have all required documentation ready. This includes their Advance Parole document and any additional evidence that supports their reason for travel.
Timing: It is imperative to plan travel dates meticulously and reenter the United States before the expiration of the Advance Parole document. Recipients should monitor their return timelines to avoid jeopardizing their status.
By following these guidelines, DACA recipients can prepare for their international travel with greater confidence and clarity.
Upon returning to the United States, DACA recipients must perform certain procedures to ensure their DACA status remains in good standing and that their re-entry is properly documented.
Checking DACA Status
A DACA recipient needs to verify that their status has not changed during their absence. They can do this by:
- Accessing their case status online at the USCIS website using their receipt number.
- Contacting USCIS directly if they notice any discrepancies or need further clarification regarding their DACA status.
Reporting to USCIS
After traveling abroad, DACA recipients are required to:
- Report their return to the United States to USCIS if instructed to do so as part of the Advance Parole documentation.
- Retain and organize all travel documents, such as their stamped passport and Advance Parole, for future reference or in case of any inquiries from immigration authorities.