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DACA Students and Study Abroad

At Western Washington University, we welcome students who are DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients to participate in study abroad programs. DACA students may be able to study abroad with Advance Parole.  Since the process requires a few extra steps, we encourage students to meet with an Education Abroad (EdAbroad) advisor as early as possible.  The EdAbroad staff is available to talk with DACA students and information is kept confidential.  It important to know that the EdAbroad staff is not qualified to give legal advice but can provide resources for students.

Advance Parole

DACA students are eligible to study abroad through the process of Advance Parole.  “Parole” in this case simply means “permission.”  Advance parole is a request in advance of permission to enter the United States at a future time and is not a guarantee of re-entry.  In other words, a DACAmented student is applying for permission to exit and then re-enter the United States.  An application for Advance Parole is submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

USCIS will generally grant Advance Parole if travel will be for the following purposes:
  • Educational - Global Learning Programs, study abroad programs or academic research;
  • Employment - overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, training, or meetings with clients; or
  • Humanitarian - to obtain medical treatment, attending funeral services for family members, or visiting an ailing relative.
DACA students may apply for Advance Parole by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and paying the application fee ($360) to USCIS.  The processing time for an Advance Parole application is about 3 months, but may take longer.

Each individual’s and family’s immigration history is unique, and students are strongly encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney and their families before deciding whether or not to apply to study abroad.  Before looking at study abroad programs, DACA students should:
  1. Refer to the USCIS webpage for most up to date information.
  2. Confirm whether or not the they will be able to obtain a passport from their country of origin. 
  3. Consider the timeline for the DACA renewal process if their DACA status requires renewal prior to or during their anticipated study abroad program.
  4. Consider both best and worst case scenarios. 
  5. Discuss their choice with family and loved ones. 
If students decide to study abroad and apply for advance parole, they are strongly encouraged to consult with an immigration attorney with guidance on completing the application and the potential for the application to be approved.  Students should also start the study abroad application.  It will be important to start early and coordinate both applications.

Where to start in exploring study abroad programs?

  1. Research programs on WWU Education Abroad website to determine academic relevance and program eligibility for country-specific information.
  2. Come to Miller Hall 208 to talk to a Peer Advisor about general international education opportunities, application process, costs, or narrowing down choices to a region or program.
  3. After choosing a program, then they should schedule a meeting with an EdAbroad Advisor to discuss university compliance procedures, costs, visas.
  4. Determine the application timeline for DACA renewal (if applicable) or seeking an Advanced Parole and how it aligns with program deadlines/deposits.

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.

When does your passport expire?
Your passport must be valid before, during and within six months after your time abroad.  If you need to renew your passport, please begin the process six months before your planned departure to allow enough time for passport processing.

Will you need a visa to study in the country you have chosen?  Can you apply for the country’s visa within the U.S.?
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.   Check the Foreign Consulates & Embassies in the U.S. under the EdAbroad Travel Resources page.

Resources

WWU Career Services Center
Law Office of Hannah E. Stone
Washington Application for State Financial Aid (WASFA)
United We Dream: United We Dream is the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation

Scholarships

Check out the various scholarship opportunities from our website, including ones specifically for DACA Students, such as through Academic Programs International (API).