You’ve heard me say it over and over again. DACA, by itself, does not lead to anything permanent. It’s a temporary solution that allows people to stay in the United States without the threat of deportation.
But, in certain circumstances, DACA can be an ingredient in the recipe for someone to obtain a green card. Let me explain.
In order to apply for your green card through Adjustment of Status in the United States, one of the things you need is a legal entry into the United States. If you don’t have one, or if you don’t meet one of the small exceptions, then you have to return to your home country and go through consular processing – which will require a waiver. Sometimes a waiver isn’t even available, though, until you’ve been outside the U.S. for ten years.
So, how does DACA help?
Many DACA recipients can’t show a legal entry, and therefore can’t apply for Adjustment of Status. However, DACA recipients can apply for Advance Parole.
Advance Parole is permission from USCIS to travel outside of the United States for a temporary amount of time for a specific purpose. It can’t be just to travel for fun, but it needs to be for a compelling humanitarian, family, educational, or employment reason.
If you leave the U.S. with Advance Parole, you do not trigger the so-called “bars” (re-entry prohibition) that normally happen when someone who has been in the country without permission leaves. The Board of Immigration Appeals issued a decision called Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly (PDF, opens in new window) that protects people with Advance Parole from these bars and allows them to return to the U.S. without fear of being banned.
When you re-enter the United States with the Advance Parole document, you now have a legal entry and one of the ingredients necessary for applying for Adjustment of Status.
Remember, though, that you still have to meet a series of other criteria in order to qualify for a green card. The legal entry is only one of many requirements.
When you consider whether or not to apply for Advance Parole or Adjustment of Status, you will certainly want to talk with an experienced immigration attorney before deciding if the scenario described here might work for you.
I just want you to know that there may be options available for you to improve your immigration status – beyond DACA – if the proper ingredients are in place.