Through a little-known provision in U.S. immigration law, undocumented immigrants like 27-year-old Fresno resident Azucena Macias have left the country and returned legally through a process called “advance parole.”
Macias was only a year old when her family travelled across the border from Mexico to California. In 2005, her parents were deported, leaving her and her sisters to grow up in the U.S. Ten years later, Macias found out her mother had been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. This prompted her to apply for advance parole which allowed her to go to Mexico, return to the country, and speed up her path to legal residency.
Advance Parole and The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Advance parole is a special travel document that gives someone authorization to enter the U.S. after the person has travelled abroad for educational, work, or humanitarian purposes. It is one of the benefits of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program of President Barack Obama for undocumented migrants born after June 15, 1981, and arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16. The Supreme Court recently blocked Obama’s plan to expand DACA, but the original program is still in place.
The Process of Advance Parole
At present, only immigrants approved for DACA can apply for advance parole. After advance parole is granted, immigrants can leave the country under the specified purposes mentioned earlier. Upon returning through customs at the airport, their unlawful status penalty will be erased. They can then apply for permanent residence if they have a sponsor.
After a successful application for permanent residency, they can apply for citizenship after five years. If married to a U.S. citizen, then can apply in three years.
Without advance parole, immigrants who leave the country are penalized. Someone who has lived in the country for six months to a year is banned from returning for three years, and someone who has lived for more than a year is banned for a full decade.
So for immigrants who have the advance parole like Macias, the ban is lifted. Instead of staying in Mexico for a decade, she only had to stay two weeks before returning to the country. Macias received her green card nearly a year after visiting her mother and plans to apply for citizenship once she becomes eligible in three years.
Around 6,400 DACA recipients have requested for advance parole. More than 85 percent of the recipients have been approved.
Risks Involved in Advance Parole
Applicants for advance parole must note that they cannot travel outside of the U.S. until after their request has been approved. Those who travel outside the country without being granted approval for advance parole will lose their DACA status.
Those who use advance parole will also undergo inspection upon their return to the country, and there is always a possibility that they could be denied entry even if the U.S. government granted them permission to travel abroad.
To fully understand the requirements and eligibility of advance parole, give us a call at 512-215-5225 or visit our website.