International Travel and “Deferred Action”

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Soon after announcing the launch of a “deferred action” program to suspend immigration enforcement actions against qualifying individuals who came to the U.S. as children, President Barack Obama and the federal agencies charged with immigration control started to issue clarifying interpretations related to the program.

Now, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (the “USCIS”) is offering guidance concerning frequently asked questions about when and how individuals granted deferred action may travel outside the U.S. without endangering their deferred status.

Basically, if you are an immigrant and the USCIS has decided to defer action in your case, there are a number of things you must do to travel outside the U.S. without jeopardizing your status. First, you must apply for so-called “advance parole” by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and paying the applicable fee for processing. USCIS will then determine whether your purpose for international travel is justified based on the circumstances described in your request.

USCIS generally grants advance parole only if you are traveling for:

  • Humanitarian purposes;
  • Educational purposes; or
  • Employment purposes.

Also, you cannot apply for advance parole at the same time that you request for deferred action.

If you do meet the guidelines for advance parole, then you can still apply for it even if you had a deportation case brought against you prior to obtaining a grant of deferred action status. However, in such a case, you should seek from the Executive Office for Immigration Review an adminstrative closure or termination of your removal proceeding.

If you have questions about the process, you can call the Office of the Public Advocate at 1-888-351-4024 or send an e-mail to EROPublicAdvocate@ice.dhs.gov.

If you are an individual in need of legal assistance with an immigration matter, you may call our office at (847) 564-0712 for an appointment to speak with a qualified immigration lawyer. You can also check out our immigration law Website for more information about how we might assist you.