One of the biggest obstacles for undocumented immigrants seeking permanent residency is the fact that they entered the US illegally. The unlawful entry often prohibits them from getting a green card even if they have a family member who could sponsor them. However, there are some very unique exceptions. One of those involves Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.
Unusual as it may sound, DACA recipients can request permission to leave the US in certain circumstances and also be allowed to legally return, also known as getting “advance parole.” Once they return, they may have the ability to adjust their immigrant status based on the fact that they now have a lawful entry into the US and an immediate family member can sponsor them for a green card.
So how does this all work?
First, DACA recipients can only get advance parole if their travel abroad falls into one of these categories:
- Humanitarian purposes, including travel to obtain medical treatment, attending funeral services for a family member, or visiting an ailing relative;
- Educational purposes, such as semester-abroad programs and academic research, or;
- Employment purposes, such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences or, training, or meetings with clients overseas.
DACA recipients interested in traveling abroad must apply for advance parole by filing Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) along with supporting documents and pay the $360 filing fee.
USCIS has been pretty generous in granting advance parole. And since many undocumented immigrants have elderly and ailing relatives living abroad, this can be a great option for some individuals to get a green card. However, there are risks in this process.
The advance parole authorization document (Form I-512L) authorizes re-entry into the US, but does not guarantee that the individual will be paroled into the US upon return. An immigrant may still be inadmissible for a variety of reasons, such as criminal history, drug use, fraud, previous removal order, and other grounds. However, even these are not absolute. Customs and Border Protection has discretion to deny re-entry and the risks increase if there are any complications in the immigrant’s records. Therefore, it’s important to consult an experienced attorney to discuss your situation and help mitigate some of the risks. In addition, even if parole is granted, recipients must travel within the exact dates of their parole or their DACA may not be renewed.
If you are a DACA recipient, contact us about your eligibility for advance parole and a green card.