Resources for DACA/Undocumented Students

Swarthmore College is committed to supporting and expanding opportunities for  Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA )and Undocumented students. We offer supportive, sensitive and personalized services. The college offers  a wide variety of resources and programs empowering  students to help reach their academic and personal goals. 

The Office of International Student Services serves as a resource center for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and undocumented students. We welcome and support our students without regard to their immigration status. We are working diligently to assure all our students continue to feel welcome and safe. Please find some resources below:

From U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

Consideration of DACA Process:
Travel while on DACA (see Q57):
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document:

United We Dream: The largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation.

We Own the Dream: A national campaign to help aspiring Americans brought to this country as children take advantage of the opportunity to apply for DACA and work permits.

Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC):  Aids low-income immigrant students in their pursuit of a U.S. college education.  View the Resource Guide for more information.

Association of International Educators,

Facebook Groups:

DACA Policy

Pursuant to a June 15, 2012, memorandum issued by the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, individuals who came to the United States before they were 16 years of age and who meet certain other conditions will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from being placed into removal proceedings. Those who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action on a discretionary, case-by-case basis, for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization. This process is referred to as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

On June 5, 2014, the Department of Homeland Security announced the process for individuals to renew enrollment in the DACA program. According to the notice, "U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has submitted to the Federal Register an updated form to allow individuals previously enrolled in DACA, to renew their deferral for a period of two years. At the direction of the Secretary, effective immediately, USCIS will begin accepting renewal requests. USCIS will also continue to accept requests for DACA from individuals who have not previously sought to access the program. Individuals may request DACA renewal if they continue to meet the initial criteria and these additional guidelines:

Did not depart the United States on or after Aug. 15, 2012, without advance parole;

Have continuously resided in the United States since they submitted their most recent DACA request that was approved; and

Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.”

"The renewal process begins by filing the new version of Form I-821D “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” Form I-765 “Application for Employment Authorization,” and the I-765 worksheet. There is a filing and biometrics (fingerprints and photo) fee associated with Form I-765 totaling $495. As with an initial request, USCIS will conduct a background check when processing DACA renewals."

Note: According to DACA renewal guidance, USCIS reminds DACA recipients that: "If your previous period of deferred action expires before you receive a renewal of deferred action under DACA, you will accrue unlawful presence and will not be authorized to work for any time between the periods of deferred action. For this reason, USCIS encourages you to submit your request for renewal 120 days before your current period of deferred action under DACA expires."

Caution: Deferred action is a discretionary benefit for individuals who would otherwise be removable from the United States. USCIS will decide applications on a case-by-case basis. Although student advisers may wish to be generally aware of how the program works, individuals who wish to assess their eligibility for DACA or DACA-related benefits like advance parole travel authorization, or to apply for or renew DACA benefits, should be counseled to consult an experienced immigration lawyer or recognized/accredited organization or representative for legal advice or for legal assistance in applying for this benefit. Individuals who believe they are eligible should also be aware of immigration scams. USCIS urges individuals to visit for tips on filing forms, reporting scams and finding accredited legal services. Advisers may also want to direct people to the American Immigration Lawyers Association's (AILA) AILA Consumer Advisory: Deferred Action for Certain Young Immigrants: Don’t Get Scammed!

DACA Students and Study Abroad

The Department of Homeland Security has stated that they will accept applications for Advance Parole for "education, humanitarian and work purposes" for students who have been granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This process, however, is complicated and we strongly encourage students to seek counsel with an immigration attorney before considering study abroad as an option.

USCIS provides the following guidance [] for DACAmented individuals:

“Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: You cannot apply for advance parole while your request for deferred action is still pending. If you leave the United States while your request for consideration of deferred action is pending, your deferred action request will be denied.

Once USCIS approves your request for consideration of deferred action, you may file Form I-131 to request advance parole to travel outside of the United States. If you travel outside the United States without first receiving advance parole, USCIS will automatically terminate your deferred action. You must submit Form I-131 with specific documentation depending on the agency that deferred action in your case. If USCIS deferred action in your case, submit a copy of your Form I-797, Notice of Action. If U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deferred action in your case, submit a copy of the ICE order, notice, or letter. USCIS will only grant advance parole if your travel abroad will be for educational, employment, or humanitarian purposes. You must indicate the purpose on the Form I-131 as described below:

Educational purposes, such as semester abroad programs or academic research;

Employment purposes, such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, training, or meetings with clients; or

Humanitarian purposes, such as travel to obtain medical treatment, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit an ailing relative.

Travel for vacation is not a valid purpose.

Remember that an approved advance parole document does not guarantee readmission to the United States; a separate discretionary decision is made on a request for parole at the port of entry upon return. Due to the risks that may be associated with leaving and re-entering the US, length of program, financial responsibility policies, an individual’s circumstances and visa restrictions; there are a number of factors that an individual must/should consider with legal counsel before moving forward with any study abroad program. This includes a review of the DACA recipient’s possible grounds for inadmissibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

DACA students should:

Refer to the US Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) webpage for the most up-to-date information.
Confirm whether or not they will be able to obtain a travel document (i.e., passport) from their country of citizenship.
Consult legal counsel of their own choosing if they decide to apply for Advance Parole.
Consult legal counsel regarding possible grounds for inadmissibility.
Seriously consider both best and worst case scenarios.
Discuss their choice with their family and loved ones.
Determine the application timeline for Advance Parole, and how it aligns with program deadlines/deposits. As of spring 2015, the Advance Parole application can take up to 3-4 months to process, so students should plan accordingly with study abroad application deadlines, etc.

Re-entry back into the US cannot be guaranteed, even with advance parole authorization and the approval of a university or education abroad office. Students should discuss the risks associated with re-entry with their legal counsel.

Important: Undocumented students who do not qualify for DACA are advised strongly against studying abroad, due to the risks that may be associated with leaving and re-entering the country. Non-DACA students may not have sufficient immigration documents to apply for re-entry to the US and can run the high risk of not being able to return to their academic program. Additionally, non-DACA students may not have sufficient immigration documents to apply for visa requirements for specific countries.