I had a huge problem the day before my flight.
I was supposed to check in online (my airline was Lufthansa) and I did everything they asked, except that when I was almost done it was asking me for my Visa or Green Card to check in to my flight to the United States. As an UndocuTraveler I obviously did not have one so I tried to skip that requirement and a pop up message appeared and said that if I didn’t have a Visa or a Green card then I couldn’t check in, and therefore, couldn’t board the plane.
I almost choked.
I decided not to panic because when you panic you cannot think straight, so the next day I took a shower, packed, had breakfast and left to the airport 5 hours before my flight. I arrived at the airport and tried to check in my luggage but since it was too early they didn’t let me, I told the lady that I had a problem checking in online and she said I had to wait 2 hours before my flight…
I waited 3 hours and I was a nervous wreck.
My flight was at 7pm so exactly at 4 pm I sat down where the line began and waited for 5pm anxiously, when my time came I explained to the lady that I did not have a Visa or a Green Card but I did have Advance Parole. I gave her my documents, passport, EAD card (your work permit, the red card) and the credit card I bought my ticket with, thankfully, she was very familiar with Advance Parole and she checked me in, took my luggage and gave me my boarding pass!
Some airlines have an option for AP like KLM but some do not, like Lufthansa, but don’t freak out if that happens to you just go to the airport and check in with a worker (not the machine) and all will be ok if you show him or her your documents!
I had a layover in Germany and it all went very smooth, I just found my gate and waited to enter the airplane, they stamped my passport because I was leaving the Schengen Zone and I was on my way home.
Two hours before landing to LAX the staff distributed a blue and white paper that we had to fill out and give to an officer upon arrival. That piece of paper is just to declare the items you brought into the country and how much in value, it asks for your passport number, name, and other personal information, is nothing to worry about.
When you land you are going to encounter an officer and you will give him or her your blue paper and they will either stamp it or sign it, then you will keep walking and you will see a line that says “Legal Permanent Residents and U.S Citizens” skip that one and find (mine was to the left) the visitor’s Line.
An officer is going to motion you to a cubicle, give them your blue and white paper (if they did not already took it away) and then give them your Advance Parole documents, passport, and EAD. Depending on the officer they will ask you questions regarding your documents or what is AP or even DACA, answer truthfully, but some do not even ask you questions so it all depends on the type of officer you get.
He or she will take your fingerprints and a picture, then they will motion you to the side and call an officer to take you to a separate room, once inside that room give the officer sitting on the chair and behind the counter your documents (AP papers, passport, and EAD) and then sit down.
This part varies, you will either wait there for hours or just a few minutes, an officer might call you for questioning or just let you go, the officers might be nice or absolute tools and mean and terrible (it all depends on who is on duty).
After I gave the officer my documents I sat down and waited 10 minutes, then he called me and gave me my documents (one AP back because they keep one and let you keep the other one for your records) and told me to step out of the room…that was it! It was really easy!
Some people don’t get their copy of the AP document, ask them to give it to you, but if they refuse there is nothing you can do, if this happens make sure you have your passport stamped with the entry to the United States and that should be enough evidence for when renewal of your DACA comes.
Then I went to retrieve my suitcase and I was free like a bird!
I have to say that it was a pretty intense experience because I was terrified.
When the plane landed I wanted to cry, I kept thinking that I was so happy to be back, and that I didn’t want to be in the U.S as badly as I did then…it is a scary experience traveling with AP but it is very worth it! Take the chance, as you can see the process is simple.
I must warn however that the entry experience varies within state, airport, time, and officers (ESPECIALLY the officers), while I was waiting in the room, an officer called an Asian lady and questioned her, then he started being extremely rude to her…the lady was on the verge of tears. Another lady asked an officer if she could call her son to let him know she was safe, the officer looked at her and told her “So? So what? I don’t care, you can’t call” as you can see it differs.
If you encounter a rude officer do not get agitated or nervous, you have a legal document and all will be fine. Do not cry, do not make it seem like you did something wrong, just be yourself. If you get an A-hole officer just remember that they can be rude and scream at you but they will let you in, it is their duty and the law.
Advance Parole says that your entry to the country depends on the discretion of the officer, that is ONLY their decision when they believe you are a danger to the country or have done something illegal or suspicious. You have not done neither of those things (I hope) and you will be OK.
In case you get held up and something does happen, do not answer questions, tell the officer you won’t speak and they may contact your lawyer. Unfortunately you cannot talk to a lawyer and he or she cannot assist you when at an airport but they can once they take you to another place.
Always have a number of a lawyer with you, a number of a person or organization for immigrant rights, and a contact from a member of the media (if you have one).
On the unfortunate (and HIGHLY unlikely) event that you do get arrested and put into deportation proceedings DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING. They will tell you terrible things, scary things, trying to intimidate you to sign, but DO NOT SIGN. If you do you are self deporting and there is nothing a lawyer or an organization or the media can do to help you. Always consult with a lawyer on what to say and let him or her handle everything, you get one phone call, call your lawyer. I want to make sure you understand that this is just a very unlikely scenario but it is alway good to be prepared.
These are just precautions, it shouldn’t come to that unless you did something terrible, which you did not (I hope).
Do not be SCARED, enjoy, come back and tell you family of your adventures!!
God bless you all UndocuTravelers!