SORRY, this post is no longer accurate, given the results of the November 2016 presidential election. We don’t know what President-elect Trump will do, but given the statements he has made, no DACA recipient should count on getting back into the U.S. after January 20, 2017. DO NOT GO ANYWHERE with (or without) Advance Parole if you will not be back by January 20, 2017.
Beautiful photograph of happy DACA recipient studying abroad removed.
Post from the “olden days” (June 15, 2012 – January 19, 2017) of President Barack Obama’s administration:
Are you a current DACA recipient with who hopes to study outside of the United States? Congratulations! It’s a great idea. Here are some suggestions for you to think about before you apply (I’ll have further suggestions for preparing to leave).
1) Plan way ahead of your possible study abroad.
2) Check when your current DACA status and employment authorization will expire! Do not plan to leave the U.S. unless you are CERTAIN you will be back before your current DACA status (or work authorization) expires. The best time to apply for renewal of your DACA and work authorization is between 150 and 120 days before the expiration. (This is approximately four to five months before the expiration date, but months can have 28 – 31 days, so count the actual days.)
3) Ask for help from an academic advisor or faculty member who knows you well, early on. This person or people can help you accomplish several of the next steps.
4) Select the particular program you wish to attend, including the country in which you want to study, thoughtfully, and with attention and care. The program and country you select should be pertinent to YOUR studies as well as YOUR academic and career goals. There will be multiple places you might go to study Chinese or French or Swahili. Where exactly do you want to go to this particular program, and why?
5) What financial resources will or might be available to help you get where you want to go? Don’t forget to include living expenses and the costs of travel within that country. Ask your advisors for help identifying potential scholarships.
6) Think about what you have done to qualify to attend the particular program you choose. Is it a competitive (or “selective”) program or does the program accept anyone who can afford to go? In Step 4, you thought about whether the program fits your needs, but you also have to figure out if you are the kind of student the program wants! (Wouldn’t it be sad to be approved for Advance Parole and then be rejected by the program?)
7) Also, make sure that you qualify for a visa to visit the country where you are hoping to study.
8) An application for what we call “Advance Parole” is more commonly called an Application for Travel Document, form I-131, available on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-131.
9) In answering the question about your planned departure and return date, make sure you give yourself a couple of days on each end of your trip, to account for travel delays.
10) In addition to answering truthfully and carefully all the questions on the form itself, you need to spend time preparing a clear statement as to why you want to go to this particular study abroad program. Don’t try to write this statement at the last minute! Treat this statement as seriously as you would an application for a scholarship, graduate school, or job. Explain why you this particular program will further YOUR academic or career goals. Show how you are serious about these goals with the courses you’ve taken thus far, jobs you’ve held, papers you’ve written, and extra-curricular activities to which you’ve devote your time. Make sure you can explain what you believe you will get from this particular program. (I am a government student interested in Kenyan and Tanzanian relations and need to understand Swahili in order to communicate with people in both of these countries.) Have someone who is NOT your best friend or parent, who does NOT know you intimately and CANNOT read your mind, read your statement to make sure it all makes sense to them. Proofread!
11) Ask a faculty member (preferably) or advisor, or both, to write letters saying why it is important for your academic future or career for you to attend this specific program.
12) Include a brochure for the program, if available. If there’s no brochure, print out information from the program’s website.
13) The timing on filing your I-131 and getting accepted to the program may be a little difficult, which is another reason to plan ahead, but you will need to attach proof that you have actually been accepted to this program.
14) Understand that the receipt of an Advance Parole does NOT guarantee your readmission to the U.S. So far, the vast majority of people are admitted back into the U.S. if you follow all the instructions. If, however, you have committed a crime, or been accused of a criminal offense, in the U.S. before you go, or if you are accused of committing a crime when you are in another country, you will have problems – maybe serious problems. Don’t stay longer than you said you were going to stay! Don’t travel to other countries unless you specified those countries on your application and were granted permission to visit those other countries.
*criminal convictions or pending criminal charges, for example
MORE LATER on what to take with you, when you go!