One of the major questions that many DACA recipients have asked regards travel, especially in regards to whether or not DACA recipients can travel to Alaska or not. This is a good question, and one that comes up quite a bit. It’s not surprising considering how beautiful Alaska is, not to mention the number of high-paying jobs available for those who aren’t afraid of hard work. The University system is also as good as it gets for a broad array of science, engineering, and cultural studies.
So what is the answer? Can DACA recipients fly to Alaska since it is, after all, a part of the United States, or is there a special exception that prevents this from being a viable option?
The answer, as with many things involving DACA travel in the United States, is complicated. However, after talking to several organizations and individuals there is the technical answer and the realistic answer, and we’ll give both here so you can measure the pros and cons, the risks versus reward, and make an informed decision.
TL;DR Answer: DACA recipients are legally allowed to travel to Alaska since it is part of the U.S. but they must do so in a way that does not have an international stop (Canada) and must receive full advance parole and permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to departing. All identification and DACA documents need to be on hand to facilitate travel there and back – but some argue that harsh Customs Enforcement is not always following letter of the law, and therefore this trip can be risky even with all documents in line and therefore the trip is not worth the risk.
Necessary Disclaimer: Keep in mind this is not legal advice, nor should be construed as such, but is simply for informational purposes to help individuals make an informed decision. For actual legal advice, consult an attorney.
Let’s do the full deep dive into this question of whether or not you can travel to Alaska with DACA. Let’s get started!
Can DACA Recipients Fly to Alaska?
First let’s look at the letter of the law when it comes to DACA and traveling to Alaska. The technical and legal aspects can be broken down into a few main parts:
- Alaska is a U.S. state and therefore open to DACA travel
- Because of it’s distance and location the USCIS must be notified prior to the trip
- Permission (advanced parole) MUST be granted by the USCIS before the travel is approved/becomes legal
- It becomes the DACA recipient’s responsibility to have all photo IDs, paperwork, and documentation to make sure they have no issues returning to the Lower 48 upon returning from the trip
While Alaska is a U.S. state and not a territory like Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, the process for DACA recipients getting permission to travel to and from there is the same and follows the same route to stay on the legal side of traveling in the United States while on DACA.
On paper this means that DACA recipients do indeed have the ability to travel to and from Alaska, albeit with a few extra steps.
So legally, DACA recipients can absolutely fly to Alaska, BUT:
- Make sure the plane does not stop anywhere internationally as this rapidly creates a legal gray area
- Watch the current political climate
The second one arises because despite the legality of Alaska travel with DACA (Which no, does not require a passport – not sure why so many people believe traveling to Alaska requires a passport even for U.S. residents or citizens because it doesn’t), during some years of the Trump Administration there were reports of ICE being overly-aggressive and detaining or even deporting DACA individuals who had every right to travel.
You can find out more about that at this site, which noted this aggressive (and questionable) policing by ICE at these airports and why they recommend not traveling to Alaska, Hawaii, or other U.S. territories.
Understandably, this has made many potential travelers gun shy to make the trip. Getting clear records on how often this happened and how these incidents resolved has been extremely difficult, but there’s little doubt there were issues/incidents that should be concerning. These seem to have abated the last couple years, but it is something to keep in mind.
It’s also reinforcement for why any DACA recipients who decide to go through with traveling to Alaska really need to make sure they have all their paperwork and identification in order before traveling.
Proper Alaska Travel Checklist for DACA Recipients
Going through this brief checklist will help you properly prepare for any trip to the Last Frontier, the state of Alaska.
- Plan the potential trip, leaving enough time to contact and receive permission from government entities (minimum 6 weeks, giving yourself multiple months is a much better/safer plan)
- Contact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Request advance parole to travel to Alaska from the USCIS – receiving this permission is crucial!
- Prepare all ID documents: state identification, immigration papers, USCIS permission, and have copies of these sent to trusted people so they are available in case issues arise at some point
- Make multiple copies of the received advanced parole permission from the USCIS
- If USCIS advance parole is denied, don’t assume you will get by despite the travel technically being legal – assume the worst and cancel the trip until you can receive this permission
- Make sure any flights stay in U.S. territory – no stops in Canada or other international locations!
Beyond that, take a look at our other Alaska content to make sure you are prepared for the special challenges that come with preparing to visit and explore such an interesting place.
Common Alaska Travel Questions
Here are some of the most common questions asked about DACA and traveling to Alaska.
Can DACA recipients fly to Alaska?
As long as the flight does not stop in Canada or have any international layover of any kind, then as long as all the USCIS paperwork is in line then a DACA recipient does have the ability to fly to Alaska.
Can I travel to Alaska with DACA?
The short answer is yes, but only with an advance parole from USCIS allowing you to make that trip.
Do need a passport to travel to Alaska?
No. Since Alaska is part of the United States no passport or visa is needed.
DACA recipients can indeed fly to Alaska as long as they take the proper steps ahead of time to get permission. If a DACA recipient can do this, they have the potential to take a once in a lifetime trip, and discover why so many people have fallen in love with Alaska, a state unlike any other.
Other Great Alaska Travel Articles