In 2012, President Obama introduced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as protection from deportation for eligible Dreamers living in the United States without status. If you apply for DACA, you'll have a work permit and lawful immigration status that you can renew every 2 years. The DACA application itself is quite extensive and requires you to provide, among other things, information about your U.S. travel history. You'll have to provide the dates when you arrived in the United States, how you came in, and what your immigration status was upon arrival. In this article, we'll explain the different parts of your U.S. travel history that the DACA forms are asking for, and how to provide that information.
Form I-821D, officially named Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is the main DACA application form. It requests U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review someone’s DACA eligibility based on various immigration history information, including U.S. travel history. The following sections explain each aspect of your U.S. travel history information that USCIS requires.
First, you must provide the date of your first entry and most recent entry into the United States. Here’s what the questions about initial and most recent entry mean:
“Date of Initial Entry” is the date or an approximation of the date of your initial entry, or the very first time you came to the United States to stay long-term. If it is your first time applying for DACA, you need to confirm you initially arrived before turning 16.
“Place of Initial Entry” is the U.S. location of your initial entry, including city and state.
“Immigration Status on June 15, 2012” is your immigration status as of this date. If you didn’t have a valid visa when you initially entered, you should select “No Lawful Status.” If you had a visa or green card that expired as of that date, choose “Status Expired.” If you received parole and your parole expired before that date, select “Parole Expired.”
“Were you ever issued an Arrival-Departure Record?” is asking for your Form I-94. This question usually applies to people who entered legally, and who U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) inspected. You should either have a paper version of the I-94 or an online record on CBP’s official website.
“Provide your Form I-94 number” is asking for your I-94 number, a unique number on your Form I-94. If you don’t have a Form I-94, indicate this question is not applicable.
“Provide the date your authorized stay expired” is asking for the date you were supposed to leave the United States.
Next, you must provide your current immigration status, as well as the date acquired and expiration date. If you are a first-time applicant and not currently in DACA status, select “No Lawful Status.” However, if you are a renewal applicant, indicate your current status as DACA, the date when USCIS approved your current DACA, and the date it expires.
You also need to provide arrival and departure information for any trips you’ve made since June 15, 2007 (for Initial Requests) or since your previously approved I-821D application (for Renewal Requests). You can find this information through your I-94 travel record. The following section explains how to obtain your I-94 form online.
To apply for DACA, you will need to share your U.S. travel history information. Fortunately, the United States keeps an online record of non-residents who travel to the country.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a convenient I-94 website where people who are not U.S. citizens and not immigrant visitors can view their travel records from the last five years.
To access your travel history record, you need to have some information prepared, including your full name, date of birth, country of citizenship, and passport number.
After obtaining this information, you can follow these steps.
Step 1: Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s website
To find your records, visit the “View Travel History” page on the CBP website.
Step 2: Provide Consent
A security page will pop up asking for your consent. Read through this page to learn about the restrictions and guidelines when accessing your travel history.
To continue in the process, click the blue “I Acknowledge and Agree” button in the bottom right-hand corner.
Step 3: Provide Your Personal Information
You will find yourself on the “Enter Your Traveler Info” page.
Here, input the information you gathered earlier. After checking its accuracy, select the blue “Next” button in the bottom right-hand corner.
Step 4: View Your Travel Records
Now, you can see the record of your travel history to the United States, including your arrival date, port of entry, departure date, and port of exit.
CBP also provides an I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to non-residents admitted to the United States, adjusting status, or extending their stay. If you want to access this form, click “Get this traveler’s most recent I-94” on the bottom of the screen.
Step 5: Review Your Information
Check that the information displayed is accurate because it is not an “official” form and it can possibly contain errors. If you notice anything inaccurate or missing, contact CBP via email.
Step 6: Print your Information
You can print your travel history information and save it for your records. Click “print” on the bottom right-hand corner. The information on the CBP website is not considered official, but you can still use it to determine your travel history when applying for DACA.
If you cannot find your U.S. travel history information or simply don’t know it, the following sections cover what steps to take.
If you can’t find your Form I-94, which is a common issue, there are still other options. Here are some alternative steps:
If you entered the United States after April 30, 2013, or after Form I-94’s digitization, you could probably access your form online.
Visit the CBP’s website and request a copy of your most recent I-94 or view your travel history from the past five years. This option is free, easy, and fast!
If you entered the United States before April 20, 2013, you probably received a paper Form I-94. You can’t access a digital copy through the CBP’s website. It is also possible a CBP officer “waved” you across a land border without documentation.
In either case, you will have to file Form I-102, officially named “Application for Replacement/Initial Nonimmigrant Arrival-Departure Document,” to request a replacement. Mail it to USCIS. If USCIS has your record, you will receive a copy within about 2.5 months. However, there is a non-waivable $445 filing fee.
If you cannot afford to file Form I-102, you can also ask the U.S. government to provide you a copy through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). You can do this in multiple ways, including filing a paper form, writing a letter to USCIS, or applying on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) website.
Applying online is the fastest option. DHS will send your request to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A CBP officer will be in touch about your record. Although FOIA requests are free, you may have to wait up to 12 months to receive documents.
If these options still don’t work for you, DHS will assume you entered the country unlawfully. You need to provide these documents:
An affidavit is a notarized, written statement where you should explain your lawful entry into the United States by describing:
1) when, where, and how you arrived
2) what travel documents you had, if any
3) whether you showed any travel documents to the U.S. immigration officer who inspected you
4) any questions the immigration officer asked you
The process of notarizing your affidavit will vary from state to state. Generally, you will need to find a notary or someone authorized by the state to verify signatures, likely at a local law office, bank, or post office.
You should provide other evidence of lawful entry into the United States. For example, you could show a plane ticket with your name.
If you don’t have other evidence, you need to provide at least two affidavits from people who first-hand knew you lawfully entered the United States. For example, somebody who picked you up from the airport could sign an affidavit confirming you arrived lawfully by plane.
However, USCIS is more likely to believe evidence than other affidavits. You should be careful about applying without other evidence. It is a good idea to talk to an immigration lawyer about your case before filing it.
If you came into the United States as a young child and don’t have information about your arrival, you are not alone. However, the travel section of the DACA application, especially your most recent entry, cannot be blank.
Try to provide as much information as possible. For example, if you don’t know the exact date you arrived, you should give the year. USCIS allows you to provide information “to the best of your knowledge,” so it’s okay to provide a close estimation.
You can also consider contacting a local legal aid organization for further help.
Completing your U.S. travel history on a DACA application can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your DACA case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!