Traveling abroad with DACA: Andrea’s experience and advice!

By ANDREA

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What country did you travel to? Hong Kong and Dubai

Timeline:

February 2016 (submitted advance parole application)

March 2016 (USCIS approved application)

June 2016 (advance parole trip, 17 days)

Did you seek legal counsel for your advance parole application? I did seek legal advice because I was new to the whole process and did not know anyone, personally, who had gone through this. However, the lawyer I contacted knew less than I did and suggested that I fill it out myself. So I did fill out advance parole by myself. It was not that difficult. The only delay I had, a very short one, was waiting for my letter of proof from my school’s study abroad center.

What is one piece of advice you have for DACA recipients who are thinking of applying for advance parole? If the political climate wasn’t as toxic as it is right now, I’d say do it. The only thing you have to lose is the money for the application (which I know it’s still a lot of money BUT worth it). What motivated me to do it was the fact that I didn’t want to live my life wondering, “what if?” As an undocumented person, I’ve learned to take advantage of every opportunity given because it can be taken away in a blink of an eye.

I had actually applied a second time for Advance Parole to go teach English in Taiwan. However, due to the uncertainty of the future of DACA, I was advised by counselors, family, friends, and legal services not to do so right now. My only loss was the fee for the application.

What was one of the highlights from your trip abroad? The highlights of my trip were learning about both the Chinese and Muslim cultures and traditions. I got to taste various foods in both countries and have to admit that I am now in love with dim sum. I got to ride a camel in Dubai and wear an abaya when we visited the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered in applying to, or going through, AP? I did not encounter any challenge related to Advance Parole. When I came back to LAX and went through customs I was expecting to get pulled aside because they had to stamp my paperwork. I was waiting in a further inspections room for about 30mins. When the officer called my name I could see he had already stamped my paperwork. He asked me where I had traveled to and for what. I told him I was studying abroad in Hong Kong and Dubai. Then he asked me where I lived and with whom. I told him the city I lived in and that I lived with my mom and siblings. Then he handed me my paperwork and I walked out feeling extremely relieved. I was happy to see my friends and professor waiting for me and they were happy to see me.

The only hiccup I did encounter on my trip was my visa to Dubai being denied at first which caused a four-day delay in Hong Kong for me. Luckily, I was blessed with an extraordinary professor and an amazing advisor who both fought for me for days and got my visa approved. My advisor stayed behind with me and I never felt scared because she travels a lot and was able to guide us. At the end of the day, staying behind in HK for a few more days allowed me to explore many more places and I gained a new best friend!

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Categories: Advance Parole

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