Navigating travel as a DACA recipient or with a pending DACA application can be challenging. In order to avoid any immigration issues or roadblocks with your application, it’s important to understand travel requirements and restrictions you may face as a DACA recipient. Before you make any domestic or international travel arrangements, we’ve put together some helpful travel information every DACA holder should be aware of.
Domestic Travel Within the U.S.
If you currently live in the U.S. and plan to travel within the country, good news! DACA holders and individuals with pending DACA applications are able to travel domestically with the proper identification documents. Any individual flying domestically in the U.S. must present a valid, government-issued ID that matches the name on their flight reservation. Prior to boarding, travelers are required to present their ID to a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent at a security checkpoint in the airport. The TSA agent will review your flight reservation and ID to confirm your identity before you are able to board. The ID you present must be valid (not expired at the time of travel) and must be issued by an official government body. Acceptable IDs include, but are not limited to, a U.S. state-issued driver’s license, driver’s permit, or a passport from your country of nationality.
If you do not have any of the above listed documents, it is possible for DACA holders to present an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a secondary form of identification. For more information on domestic travel in the U.S. and how to prepare for your flight, check out the TSA’s official travel guide.
Navigating REAL ID Requirements
If you’ve applied for a new identification card recently or you’re a frequent traveler, you may have heard of “REAL ID”, a new security standard for government-issued documentation. Beginning on May 3, 2023, all individuals 18 years old and older must obtain a REAL ID-compliant document in order to fly within the U.S. REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses are now marked with a star icon at the top of the card. In addition to state-issued driver’s licenses, several other documents are considered REAL ID-compliant at this time. See a full list of acceptable identification documents that satisfy REAL ID requirements here.
DACA recipients can generally obtain a REAL ID at their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by presenting an EAD and proof of residence documents, such as utility bills or a signed lease that clearly display a current address. Since all states have different requirements and license application processes, it is best to contact your state’s DMV office directly for more specific information.
It is important to note that for DACA holders, a current EAD alone is also considered REAL ID-compliant and can be presented for domestic flights within the U.S. Individuals that do not have a valid EAD, or are unable to obtain a REAL ID prior to May 2023 when enforcement goes into effect, will need to use a passport from their country of nationality to travel.
To learn more about REAL ID requirements by state, including where to obtain an updated driver’s license, visit the REAL ID website and click your state on the map.
International Travel Considerations
While domestic travel within the U.S. is generally possible for all DACA holders, international travel may be more difficult depending on your specific immigration circumstances. In general, DACA holders are not able to travel outside of the U.S. without specific travel authorization issued by the U.S. government (otherwise known as Advance Parole). Even for those who obtain an Advance Parole travel document, international travel is restricted and permissible only for certain reasons. For more information on applying for the Advance Parole document, and navigating international travel as a DACA recipient, check out Boundless’ DACA guide.