Undocumented and AB 540 Students

Person standing at the base of a waterfall

UCSC Global Learning stands in solidarity and in service to our undocumented community here at UCSC. This page is meant to guide undocumented students through the thought and planning process for global learning. We invite you to meet with a global learning advisor to explore program options that might be right for you as well as consult with the UC Immigration Legal Services Center and the Undocumented Student Services office.

For more information about studying abroad or away as an undocumented student, please see this Study Away for Undocumented Students video featuring UCSC and UCLA study away alumni.

***For information about how DACA is affected by the Texas vs USA case, see this FAQs resource produced by UCIMM, issued July 16, 2021

Global Learning Program Options

UC Global Learning Programs Abroad 

UCSC Global Learning welcomes all students, regardless of country of origin or immigration status, to apply to our global learning programs. However, due to the high risks involved and the rapid changes affecting immigration policies, it is critical for undocumented students to seek legal advice from immigration legal services before proceeding with any plans to study abroad or away.

For a full list of our various global learning programs, visit the Programs page of our website. 

What is needed to study abroad?

In addition to following all application and pre-departure processes needed for the program, undocumented
students should also be aware of additional documentation that is related to their entry and exit of both
The United States and the country of destination. 

An undocumented student participating in a global learning program abroad must have:

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status or Temporary Protected Status (TPS): Must have valid DACA or TPS status that covers the entire duration of their intended program abroad. There have been instances where a host country’s consulate also requires a student’s DACA or TPS status to be valid for an extended period of time (sometimes 6 months) beyond the end date of the program. It is important to consider the validity period of your current DACA or TPS and how that works or conflicts with the requirements. For information about how DACA is affected by the Texas vs USA case, see this FAQs resource produced by UCIMM, issued July 16, 2021
  • Advance Parole: Advance Parole (USCIS Form I-131) is a travel document issued by the United States
    Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This document is needed to allow the recipient the ability to return to the United States, at discretion. One must have a confirmed Advance Parole before going abroad and the application and approval process typically takes 7-14 months, or longer. For undocumented students, a valid DACA or TPS is a part of the requirement for applying for Advance Parole. For more information about Advance Parole for DACA students, visit UC’s Immigrant Legal Services Center FAQ about Advance Parole. Access additional UC resources here and watch the UCIMM webinar on Advance Parole Updates here.
  • Visa: Depending on the length of the study abroad program, destination, and the passport you hold, a
    visa for entrance into your study abroad destination may be required.

Applying to UCEAP: Advance Parole Considerations

Because Advanced Parole processing is currently taking up to 10-14 months, if you would like to apply to a UCEAP program, we are able to work with you more than a year in advance so that you have time to complete the Advance Parole approval process before going abroad. Please see the steps to complete an early UCEAP application below.

  1. Create and submit a completed application for your intended program in the UCEAP portal.  
  2. Please note, applying to UCEAP is a 2-step process. Once you submit your application in the UCEAP portal, you will also need to complete a UCEAP nomination form in the Global Learning Portal which requires academic approval
  3. Email globallearning@ucsc.edu to request that we process your UCEAP application before the deadline so that you can start your Advance Parole application.
  4. Once you submit your completed application, we will work with our UCEAP partners to review your application and confirm your eligibility.
  5. If you are accepted into the program, our UCEAP partners will provide you with a UCEAP Participation letter for your intended program. This letter is required as your evidence for reason of travel. 

If you have any questions at all about the above process, please email us at globallearning@ucsc.edu or make an appointment to meet with an advisor by following the instructions on our Advising page.

UC Global Learning Programs in the U.S. 

While there has been an emphasis on leaving the country to experience global learning, with the U.S. having such diverse populations of peoples and regions, leaving the comforts of our well-settled Californian lifestyle to study in another state could be just as enriching of an experience. There are some global learning programs in the U.S. that have been designed for all UC students and are offered during the summer and academic year. For example, any UC student under any major can intern in Washington D.C. with the UCDC Washington Program or in Sacramento with the UC Center Sacramento Program. All students can also look into the University of California Ecology and Natural Reserves Program where you can conduct independent research! Another really great option would be to take advantage of the opportunity to study at one of the other UC campuses for one term under the UC Intercampus Visitor Program!

If you are interested in participating in a summer program, you can consider taking a look at the UC Center Sacramento Summer Program or a UC Summer Away program offered in the U.S. through UC Davis, UCLA, and other UCs. It is important to know that these programs change yearly, so each summer will have different program offerings. That being said, it is best to start taking a look at these summer program options at the beginning of the academic year so that you have plenty of time to plan your academic summer away!

What is needed to study in the U.S?

  • REAL ID: In order to travel on an aircraft domestically, all California residents must have a REAL ID by May 7, 2025. DACA recipients are eligible to receive a REAL ID DL/ID card if their legal presence documents are current. The REAL ID DL/ID card will expire on the same date as their U.S. legal presence document. When it is time to renew, DMV will send a renewal notice to the address on file requesting an updated DHS extension information/document. The applicant should visit a field office and present their documents if they want to retain their REAL ID. For more information, see this REAL ID FAQ page.
    • Alternatively, if you cannot obtain a REAL ID, you may consider a different means of transportation to your domestic program location, by car or train.
  • Other Documents: Depending on the program type, you may be required to present other documents including a state police record, an employment authorization document (for internships), or others.

U.S. Airplane Travel Recommendations for Undocumented Students

  1. Ensure proper identification to pass through security (not all driver’s licenses are the same and will qualify). Additional resources on identification types may be found on the TSA’s website: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification
  2. Understand your rights if stopped or questioned – review the Know Your Rights brochure
  3. Be aware of flight paths (different states have different laws)

The UC Immigrant Legal Services Center has many resources and additional information. If you have any individual immigration concerns or questions, you’re welcome to reach out to Ritu Goswamy, our UCSC staff attorney, (see contact information below). 

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Financial Aid, Scholarships, and Budgeting 

Financial Aid 

If you choose to participate in a UC global learning program, you are generally eligible for the same amount of financial aid you would receive during an academic term at UCSC including your Cal Grant, UC Grant, DREAM loan, and any other aid you receive. Most departmental and private scholarships are also transferable! Going during the academic year is the best option for most students as summer funding is very limited. Financial aid funding is not available for independent programs.

Apply for financial aid early to give yourself extra time in case you are selected for verification. You can request an estimate on a projected financial aid package for your program by contacting a Financial Aid Advisor via email or going to drop-in hours where you can speak to them about your financial aid package and situation. Getting this estimate done can offer you insight into how much money you can expect to pay out of pocket to meet program costs and can allow you to plan accordingly. 


You should prepare for your out-of-pocket expenses by creating a budget for the program you are applying to. You can download a fillable budget for different program types on our Budgeting for Global Learning webpage. This a good way to help you understand your financial aid situation and plan ahead for out-of-pocket expenses. 


You should apply to any and all scholarships that you are eligible for! Be sure that the scholarships you apply for allow applicants who have undocumented status. Review scholarships on our webpage here.

Here are some examples of scholarships you can consider: 

You can always inquire with our office about other scholarship opportunities! Also, please note that all UCIMM services are free and that Undocumented Student Services can help with $575 advance parole filing fee.

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A Note About The Real ID, Sharing Status, and Differing Political Climates in Other States

The Real ID and Sharing Your Status

Residents of California must have the California Real ID by May 7, 2025, in order to travel on aircraft within the U.S. Only authorized immigrants or those who maintain lawful status may apply for REAL ID-compliant licenses, including students with TPS. REAL IDs have anti-counterfeit technology in the card. For more information about the REAL ID, review UCIMM’s REAL ID FAQ page or get in touch with our UCSC legal fellow, Sarah Domenick (see contact information below).

If a traveler is undocumented after May 7, 2025, the traveler should obtain alternative acceptable identification documents, which could include a valid passport issued by the government of which they are a citizen. Generally speaking, traveling with a passport with no valid U.S. visa stamp on it does not imply unlawful status. However, given the political climate, restrictive immigration policies, and heightened immigration enforcement rules, it may be a trigger for further inquiry by the TSA or other federal agents.

Under the REAL ID regulation, applicants with approved deferred action who hold valid Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) may qualify to receive temporary REAL ID driver’s licenses and ID cards and may continue to hold temporary (limited-term) REAL IDs until their expiration.


Please know that under no circumstances do you have to share information about your migratory status with anyone at any time, including with faculty, staff, or peers. You have the right to protect yourself by not disclosing your status and by only sharing it with trusted sources.  

Immigration-Sentiment Climate Varies by State

While California considers itself a Sanctuary State and offers immigrants some legal protections, when it comes to choosing a program that is in a region outside of California, it is important to consider the climate of immigrant sentiment there.  Using this search engine, you can find the specific laws and regulations concerning immigrants in different states.  Taking a look at the Immigrant Climate Index could also be a helpful marker for understanding what might be the overall feeling toward immigrants in this particular state or region. 

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UC Immigrant Legal Services Center (UCIMM)

Provides on-site immigration legal aid, and can help but is not limited to:

  • Confidential consultation to assess eligibility for all immigration relief programs (DACA, Advance Parole, U-Visa, T-Visa, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Family Based Petitions, Adjustment of status (ie green card application), and Naturalization (citizenship)
  • Legal advice for students who plan to travel and want to assess potential risks
  • Direct representation

*Please note, all UCIMM services are free!

Meet the UC Santa Cruz Staff Attorney

Ritu Goswamy (they/them) is a Staff Attorney with the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center and serves UC Santa Cruz. They are a graduate from Barnard College, Columbia University (B.A. Psychology, minor in English) and Boston College (Joint J.D./M.S.W. degrees). Prior to joining the Center, Ritu worked as a child welfare worker in Oakland, and as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society – Employment Law Center (now Legal Aid at Work) and Legal Advocates for Children & Youth (part of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley). Ritu was an Equal Justice Works Fellow with Homeboy Industries, where they founded the legal services program serving formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated people. Ritu then ran their own private immigration law practice for 15 years focused on complex family-based and naturalization cases, U visas, VAWA, asylum, and removal defense. Ritu is also a leadership and wellness coach and published author. They enjoy hiking, walking on the beach, farmers markets and ayurvedic wellness practices. Ritu is a second-generation immigrant, and proficient in Spanish and Hindi.

Schedule an Appointment

Ritu will be available to meet with currently matriculated students or their immediate family members during set times each quarter called Legal Intake Days. To schedule an appointment you can either call, email, or schedule online:

  1. Phone: (530) 574-9414
  2. Email: ritu.ucimm@law.ucdavis.edu  
  3. Online bookings page: https://ucimm.law.ucdavis.edu/book-appointment 

For more UC Immigrant Legal Services resources on policy updates and immigration, visit here.

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Understanding Advance Parole 

The following information was shared by the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center’s Advance Parole Updates webinar on May 25, 2021. To watch the Advance Parole Updates webinar, click here. For information about how DACA is affected by the Texas vs USA case, see this FAQs resource produced by UCIMM, issued July 16, 2021.

What is Advance Parole?

Advance parole (AP) is permission granted by the Department of Homeland Security allowing certain noncitizens to temporarily travel outside the US and return lawfully.

Who qualifies for Advance Parole?

  • DACA recipients
  • TPS beneficiaries and applicants
  • U visa recipients
  • T visa recipients
  • Adjustment of status applicants
  • Certain individuals outside the US who need to enter due to urgent humanitarian reasons or for significant public benefit (used sparingly)

Who qualifies for DACA Advance Parole?

Students whose travel is for one of the following purposes:

  • Education
    • Examples: study abroad programs, academic research, student-athlete traveling to participate in sports events
  • Employment
    • Examples: overseas work assignments, conferences, interviews, trainings, or client meetings
  • Humanitarian
    • Examples: attending a funeral, visiting an ailing relative, or seeking medical treatment

How do I apply for DACA Advance Parole?

Consult with a qualified immigration attorney before applying for advance parole.

It is important to discuss with an attorney:

  • Prior order of deportation or removal or case in immigration court
  • Any criminal convictions- even if they did not make you ineligible for DACA
  • Prior departures from the U.S. without permission to re-enter
  • Immigration-related fraud or misrepresentation to the government

Application Steps 

  1. Fill out Advance Parole application: USCIS Form I-131
  2. Write a statement of purpose explaining in detail your purpose for traveling and the intended dates of travel. 
  3. Gather evidence/documentation of your reason for traveling (education, employment, or humanitarian).
  4. Assemble your application packet with:
    • A copy of your DACA Approval Notice
    • A copy of your photo ID (EAD card or State ID)
    • 2 passport size photos
    • $575 filing fee payment payable to the “Department of Homeland Security”

(See the UCIMM Resource page for helpful materials)

Evidence for Reason of Travel (the requirements vary depending on the basis for your request)

  • Education:
    • Study Abroad: letter from the educational institution confirming program participation; course registration form or document showing enrollment in classes; syllabi; acceptance letter from your university and/or overseas institution or program; program-specific information; letter(s) from a professor; degree plan
    • Academic Research: letter(s) from a professor; research proposal
    • Student-athlete: records showing enrollment/ team membership; game schedule
  • Humanitarian: letter from medical professional/hospital documenting ill relative’s condition; identity doc of the ailing relative; birth certificate showing relationship to ailing relative; death certificate (for a funeral)
  • Employment: letter from employer; documented showing employment need such as conference or training program; invitation to speak at conference/training; resume

Additional Information

The Advance Parole application requires you to specify an initial travel date and the number of days you plan to be outside the U.S. You can travel anytime between the date range indicated on the travel document issued by USCIS. 

There are no specific limits on the length or timing of travel, but here are some guidelines:

  • Do not plan to be outside the U.S. for more than 180 days (6 months)
  • Your passport and DACA grant must be valid for the entire length of your trip

Please note, you cannot travel to any country not indicated on your travel document. For example, if you are abroad and want to travel to another country, you would need to indicate that at the time you apply and provide a reason for additional travel.

How long does it take to get Advance Parole?

Current expected processing times: anywhere from 7-14 months (or longer)

But I need to travel urgently and can’t wait 4 months, what are my options??

Expedited AP can be requested by explaining, in writing, the reason for the “expedite request.” However, it is not guaranteed USCIS will process your case faster.

Emergency AP requests are granted on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Prepare your application materials
  2. Schedule an InfoPass appointment at a USCIS office near you by calling the USCIS Contact Center
  3. Attend your InfoPass appointment where officers will adjudicate your application and, if they grant it, issue you travel documents

What should I expect after I apply?

  • If your AP application is granted, you will receive an AP travel document (I-512L) Do not travel before receiving this document.
  • You must travel within the dates specified on your I-512L and only to the country or countries indicated

*Most travelers with AP documents are subject to secondary inspection by senior border officers

Covid-19 policies for traveling to the U.S.

Make sure you understand and comply with COVID restrictions for your destination country and the U.S.

As of 1/26/2021, the Department of State requires that all air passengers over 2 years old entering the U.S. present one of the following:

  • a negative Covid test taken within 3 days of departure
  • proof of recovery from Covid within the last 90 days

Note: Please be aware of any special restrictions before your travel date.

Risks of traveling on Advance Parole

Having a valid AP travel document does not guarantee re-entry to the U.S.

  • Border officers could deny you re-entry if you are “inadmissible” (disqualifies from entering the U.S. due to immigration history, criminal history, or other factors)
  • Border officers could deny you re-entry based on their discretion
  • Your AP document or underlying DACA grant could be revoked while you are outside the U.S.

A qualified immigration attorney can help assess the levels of risk associated with your case.

(One) benefit of DACA Advance Parole

Re-entering the U.S. on DACA Advance Parole counts as a “lawful entry,” which is a requirement for qualifying individuals to get their green card (lawful permanent residence) from within the U.S.

However, obtaining a “lawful entry” alone is NOT a valid purpose to apply for Advance Parole.

Hiring an Immigration Attorney

Additional Questions?

UC Immigrant Legal Services Center Resources:

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Student Experiences and Perspectives:

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Last modified: Jul 11, 2024