DACA and Study Abroad

Students who are DACA recipients may be able to study abroad with advance parole. The process requires a few extra steps, and we encourage students with DACA to meet with a study abroad advisor as early as possible.

Each individual’s and family’s immigration history is unique, and students are strongly encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney and their families prior to deciding whether or not to apply to study abroad. There is significant risk involved in leaving the country, even with the advance parole document. Pomona College students may contact sagehensprobono@gmail.com to connect with Pomona’s Pro Bono Immigration Legal Resource Network.

Advance Parole

Advance parole is a travel document authorizing temporary parole of an individual into the U.S. There are three types of travel allowable for DACAmented students under advance parole, one of which is “Educational purposes, such as semester abroad programs or academic research.” Students must apply for and receive the advance parole travel document prior to leaving the U.S.

When returning from study abroad, a student with DACA presents the advance parole document to the airline at check-in as authorization for entry into the U.S., in place of a visa. Upon arrival in the U.S., the student presents the advance parole document (along with the passport and DACA card) to the border agent at customs and immigration. The border agent may then parole the student into the U.S.

Applying for Advance Parole

DACAmented students may apply for advance parole by filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and paying the application fee ($575) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In our experience, the processing time of an advance parole application is estimated at about three to six months but may take longer. Give yourself extra time for the application in case of delays (we recommend at least six months). You should not leave the U.S. without an advance parole document that is valid through the entire semester abroad.

The Form I-131 instructions have clear and comprehensive information about advance parole. We recommend reading the information carefully to help determine the risk involved and discussing with your family and an immigration lawyer.

Note: If you need financial assistance for the advance parole application fee, you can contact the Dean of Students and complete the Emergency Funding Form on the Dean of Students Office page in Engage.

Other Considerations

When does your DACA expire?

It is important to note when your DACA will expire. Your DACA must be valid during your entire stay abroad and through the date you re-enter the U.S. USCIS recommends submitting a renewal request between 120 and 150 days before your DACA expires. You may not file for advance parole and DACA renewal at the same time.

When does your passport expire?

Your passport must be valid before, during, and for six months after your time abroad. If you need to renew your passport, please begin this process six months before your planned departure to allow enough time for passport and visa (if necessary) processing.

Will you need a visa to study in the country you’ve chosen? Can you apply for the country’s visa within the United States?

It is important to check if you will need a visa for your destination country. This is determined based on what country your passport is from. More importantly, you should make sure that if a visa is required, you will be able to apply for it within the U.S. To find out visa requirements, visit the country’s Embassy/Consulate website. If you do not find the information that you need on the website, try emailing them or calling them. Embassies’/Consulates' contact info can be found on their website. Your program staff can also provide information and help guide you through this process. Pomona College students with DACA have successfully studied abroad in Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Morocco, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Note: Keep in mind that semester study abroad programs are longer than 90 days. Additionally, some countries require a special visa for students, even if tourists do not need one.

Recommended Timeline for DACAmented Students

The process requires a few extra steps, and we encourage students with DACA to meet with a study abroad advisor as early as possible. Students are encouraged to follow this general timeline:

1 year in advance:

  • Meet with a Study Abroad Advisor
  • Discuss your plans with your family and immigration attorney
  • Begin the process to research and select your program

9-12 months in advance:

  • Renew your DACA (if applicable – DACA must remain valid through the end of your program plus 120-150 days afterwards)
  • Renew your passport (if expiring within six months after the end of your study abroad program)
  • Apply for your study abroad program
  • Gather documents for Advance Parole application

6 months in advance:

  • Apply for Advance Parole

3+ months in advance:

  • Apply for visa (if necessary)
  • Complete pre-departure requirements for program
  • Book flight within Pomona’s flight booking guidelines

1-3 months in advance:

  • Gather all documentation required for travel to confirm you have what you need and to provide time to address any processing delays (e.g., passport, visa, Advance Parole document, DACA card, program acceptance letter, etc.)


Domestic Programs

In addition to Study Abroad programs, DACAmented and undocumented students wishing to pursue a semester off-campus may consider one of Pomona’s Cooperative Academic Programs in the U.S.:

  • The Semester in Environmental Science at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA
  • CMC’s Washington Semester Program
  • CMC’s Silicon Valley Program
  • Domestic exchange for a semester at Colby College in Waterville, ME; Spelman College in Atlanta, GA; or Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA

More information about the programs and the application process is available through the relevant departments listed in the catalog and the Registrar’s Office.


Additional Resources

UC-Berkeley’s “Travel for DACA-mented Students”

DREAM Act Portal Forum

California Department of Social Services Resources