Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals & Study Abroad

Updated: January, 2017

At this time, there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether DACA students will continue to be able to study abroad. While the Office of International Affairs will not prevent or hinder DACA students from participating in study abroad opportunities, it is our recommendation that students wait to commit to a study abroad program until the new presidential administration outlines its policies regarding DACA students and similar groups. Previous DACA information is listed below.

Previous update: December, 2014

DACA students can study abroad! There are some concerns we want to address but it is possible. Students who have received DACA can study abroad with advance parole.

Students who intend to study abroad with DACA will have to be organized. As part of the process, you will work with the Undocumented Students office and there will be a form and process established soon to connect DACA students to a base level of legal services for DACA and Study Abroad.

DACA Basics

  • DACA students need to be organized and should contact UC Merced Study Abroad right away when planning to study abroad to better understand the need for strong organization skills and overlapping timelines.
  • DACA students can study abroad and return to the United States when granted advance parole, using “educational” purposes as the reason for travel.
  • Advance parole costs $360 and must be granted prior to departure from the United States. The $360 fee is not covered by financial aid.
  • Advance parole is only valid until its expiration and students must plan accordingly.

Potential Risks for DACA Students

It is not possible to enumerate all of the potential risks for DACA students and the UC Merced Office of International Affairs has no immigration experts. For these reasons and more, we encourage students to seek counsel with an immigration expert such as those available through the Undocumented Students office. While this list is not exhaustive, here are some of the more likely risks:

  • Students who fail to return prior to the expiration of their advance parole risk not being able to return.
  • Students fail to request advance parole early enough before leaving the U.S.
  • Immigration reform might take place while students are abroad that requires students to be physically present in the U.S. on a specific date or a specific window or amount of time.
  • Advance parole is not a guarantee of reentry into the U.S. and, while unlikely, immigration officials may deny entry at his or her own distretion.
  • Any issues related to the list below

Be sure to discuss the following with an immigration expert prior to leaving the US or applying for advance parole:

  • Deportation or removal orders
  • Immigration-related fraud
  • Criminal convictions
  • Unauthorized departures from and reentries into the U.S.

More Information

More and more information is becoming available on DACA and Study Abroad. The International Center is not aware of any students from UC Merced or who have attempted to study abroad as DACA recipients as of fall 2014, but students on other campuses have been successful.

Below is additional information about DACA and study abroad:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (agency under the US Dept of Homeland Security)

Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

Here are instructions directly from USCIS on how to file the Form I-131 to request advance parole in order to be able to leave and potentially reenter the United States for an academic program abroad.

External resources

Webinar - Travel Abroad for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Recipients: Own the Dream is a resource suggested by an organization for study abroad and international student professionals. In this 20-minute webinar video recording, the presenters discuss how DACA recipients would be able to study abroad, the concept of advance parole, potential eligibility concerns, logistics, and more.

Practice Advisory: This 8-page document is developed by the same group as the webinar above. It discusses the topic of travel for DACA recipients using "advance parole."

The UC Merced International Center always recommends that students with complex questions regarding immigration and naturalization—including DACA—refer to immigration experts such as a family immigration attorney. The Undocumented Students office provides access to these services for free.  Students should also consider meeting with a study abroad advisor as soon as possible as there may be concerns about timing, study visas, study abroad funding, etc..