Can DACA Recipients Travel? What You Need to Know

Traveling the world is an enriching experience. However, some DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ) recipients are scared to leave the county for fear of losing their eligibility. There is some good news. DACA recipients can travel but with a few restrictions. Here is what you need to know about traveling as a DACA recipient. 

Are you concerned with leaving the country as a DACA holder? At Brudner Law, we can help answer your questions so that you retain your DACA eligibility!

Can You Travel with DACA within the U.S.?

plane flying into LAX

DACA recipients can travel within the United States. That means DACA recipients can take planes, buses, and boats without issues. They will still need to show the appropriate identification to board these vessels. If any travel requires you to leave the United States, you will need to apply for Advance Parole, which allows you to leave the United States without losing your DACA status. 

In late 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved to travel to Puerto Rico and the United States territories without advance parole. DACA recipients could leave the United States and re-enter without losing their status. The USCIS recommends keeping all DACA documentation with the traveler to avoid any problems at the border or other port of entry. 

Related: How Long Does DACA Take To Process? 

Where Can I Travel with DACA?

In the past, leaving the United States often put the status of DACA recipients in jeopardy. Travel was limited to the borders of the United States. With Advance Parole, it is an opportunity for DACA recipients to travel outside of the United States and return legally. To obtain Advance Parole, you need to get Form I-512L. 

Form I-512L is almost similar to a visa. After the official inspects the Advance Parole document, you can re-enter the United States. However, an Advance Parole document is not without any risks. Not every DACA holder is eligible for Advance Parole either. You cannot travel for any reason as a DACA recipient, such as visiting friends and family. These travel reasons must be for a humanitarian reason or one with significant public benefit. 

Some of these reasons include:

  • Traveling outside the country to support the federal law enforcement or national security interests of the U.S.
  • Traveling to support the wellbeing, safety, or care of an immediate relative, especially a minor child
  • Traveling abroad to get some medical treatments that help sustain their lives, especially for treatments that cannot be obtained while in the U.S.

Related: A Complete Guide to DACA 

Can I Use My DACA Card as an I.D.?

Over the next few years, there is a push for all United States citizens to carry a READ ID. Applicants must meet stricter criteria to obtain the identification, and they will be required for domestic flights. Most states allow DACA cards to be used as an I.D., and some even let the holder present it for a REAL ID. But if the DACA has expired, the recipient will need to submit another form of identification. Using a DACA card for an I.D. depends on the specific state, as they set their own requirements for licenses and official identification. 

Do You Need a Passport for DACA?

man with a passport at the airport

If you want to travel, you need to have some photo identification. In many cases, the DACA recipient does have a passport from their country of birth. You can travel with a valid, unexpired passport from your country. Before you travel internationally, you need to check the latest information about the program as it can change. For now, DACA recipients can travel with a passport to a foreign country. 

Do DACA Recipients Have Green Cards?

Yes, a DACA recipient can obtain a green card, but only under certain circumstances. If you have entered the United States with Advance Parole or an initial entry on a valid visa, you could qualify for a green card. There are many types of green cards, including employment-based, family-based, and humanitarian. Like most green cards, the applicant must meet specific eligibility requirements to apply and get approval for these statuses. 

Can DACA Recipients Marry a Citizen?

While the definite answer will depend on certain situations and factors, generally, the answer is yes. U.S. citizens are free to marry anyone, including those DACA recipients. The U.S. citizen will not have issues with their residency status, but the spouse will see a change. With the marriage, the DACA recipient might obtain a marriage-based green card. Like most applicants, a few requirements must be met, such as the marriage was made in good faith and not to receive immigration benefits for the DACA holder. 

Related: The Ultimate Guide to the Biometrics Appointment

How Can DACA Recipients Get Citizenship?

The issue of citizenship for DACA recipients has been hotly contested. For most recipients, DACA is not a clear path to citizenship. There are a few steps to take. First, the DACA recipient would need to get a permanent residence or green card to help pave their way to citizenship. The DACA recipient must have entered the United States lawfully with a valid U.S. visa

In some cases, you can petition USCIS for an immigration visa if you have an immediate relative with U.S. citizenship. Unfortunately, you cannot get a green card for those who did not enter the country legally. You might be able to meet the lawful entry requirement with Advance Parole. With that, you need to leave the country and re-enter. However, there are risks, and you need approval to travel abroad. 

Once you have a green card for several years, you can apply for naturalization. U.S. veterans can apply after three years, while civilians can apply after five. After the naturalization process, you are considered an official and lawful U.S. citizen. 

Conclusion

woman with luggage at the airport

DACA holders do face some hurdles when it comes to traveling abroad. While you can get Advance Parole, you can travel abroad for specific circumstances. DACA is a complicated status, and you should always speak to an attorney before leaving the country. 

Are you searching for help with your visa application, the naturalization process, or other immigration issues? At Brudner Law, we can assist with these critical legal matters!