Advance parole is most often understood in the context of adjustment of status applications where the applicant is given advance permission by USCIS to leave the US while his or her green card case is pending without being considered to abandon it. However, one does not necessarily need to have filed an application for adjustment of status (I-485) in order to apply for advance parole. Individuals who have been granted DACA status, for example, are also eligible, under certain circumstances, to apply for travel permission.
USCIS sets forth three general categories under which advance parole will be considered for DACA recipients. They are:
- Humanitarian purposes
- Educational purposes
- Employment purposes
Typical scenarios that are envisioned would be, for example, a request to leave the US in order to visit a sick relative; receive medical treatment; finish research abroad; or attend conferences or meetings in connection with one’s work. Depending on the stated reason, one should be prepared to attach supporting documentation to the fullest extent possible. For instance, if a relative is ailing, there should be medical documentation that confirms the medical status.
The benefits for DACA holders are obvious: many of these young adults have not left the United States since they entered the country. A grant of advance parole enables DACA recipients to leave the US for an approved reason without jeopardizing their DACA status or more importantly, triggering an unlawful presence bar that would prevent their entry back into the US. In some cases, there may be additional benefits such as potential eligibility to apply for adjustment of status. For example, if the only reason why one couldn’t apply for adjustment of status previously was due to a lack of inspection, an individual who travels and returns on advance parole may have conceivably cured that defect with the entry on parole. Obviously, this is a very technical concept that should be explored with an attorney.
Of course, with any benefit, there are also concomitant risks. DACA recipients who have been granted advance parole are nevertheless subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection upon return to the US. If a CBP officers discovers facts or circumstances that would lead to a finding of inadmissibility, that individual may encounter significant problems re-entering notwithstanding the parole document. This could arise under a multitude of circumstances. If an individual traveled with the advance parole but was then convicted of a crime outside, that crime would potentially bar him or her. Sometimes, a person may have already been ordered deported before being granted DACA status (a removal order does not necessarily prevent a person from qualifying for DACA.) However, should that same DACA holder leave with advance parole, he or she may be effectively executing the removal order with realizing it. Anyone who has ever been in immigration court proceedings or experienced an encounter with immigration at the border should seriously consider and discuss the viability of advance parole with an immigration attorney.
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