What happens if you have a pending Adjustment of Status application and you need to travel outside of the U.S? It is important that you receive an Advance Parole document before leaving the country. Otherwise, your Adjustment of Status Application will be considered abandoned and it will be denied.
What is the Advance Parole I-131 Application?
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, is the form you complete to request travel authorization, which is called the Advance Parole. Advance parole gives you the opportunity to travel outside of the U.S. while your Adjustment of Status (AOS) case is pending, even if you do not have a non-immigrant (temporary) visa or it has already expired. You will need an Advance Parole document to re-enter the U.S. and to avoid having your AOS application considered abandoned. An Advance Parole document is good for one year. You are also allowed to renew it if necessary, as USCIS often takes more than a year to process an AOS application.
Who Needs to Apply for Advance Parole I-131?
Arguably, almost everyone who files for Adjustment of Status should also apply for Advance Parole even if you do not plan on traveling or already have a temporary visa that allows travel. Plans can change and it typically takes several months for USCIS to process an Advance Parole application, so it is not something you can decide to do at the last minute. It is also likely that your non-immigrant visa will expire before your AOS application is processed. However, an Advance Parole document does not guarantee entry into the U.S., so many attorneys advise against foreign travel to anybody who has complicating factors, such as immigration status violations, that could potentially make them inadmissible.
There are other circumstances where someone might want to file form I-131, including refugees, asylees, permanent residents, DACA recipients, those with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and those seeking humanitarian parole.
Why Should You Apply for Advance Parole?
There is little downside to applying for Advance Parole. Form I-131 is one of the simpler USCIS forms and there is no cost to file it if you do so with your AOS application or it is currently pending. It allows you to visit your family overseas and travel for work without fear of being denied re-entry to the U.S. and USCIS rejecting your AOS application. While there is no requirement that you travel, you get the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can.
Travel Restrictions with Advance Parole I-131
Advance Parole comes with relatively few restrictions. Even if you have a current non-immigrant visa, do not travel outside the U.S. while your Advance Parole application is pending, as USCIS will consider your I-131 to be abandoned and will deny it. Practically speaking, this makes it very difficult for people who have to travel for work outside of the U.S. frequently, as they might need to travel before their application can be processed. If you fall into such a category, your best bet is to maintain a non-immigrant visa.
You must return to the U.S. before your Advance Parole document expires. It is designed with short term travel in mind and you will need to anticipate being in the U.S. for immigration related matters such as your biometrics and Green Card interviews. You can renew your Advance Parole but apply as early as possible to avoid a gap period where your old document has expired and your new one has not been approved yet.
Returning to the U.S.
While most people with an Advance Parole document re-enter the U.S. without incident, you should be aware that it does not guarantee entry into the country. You should reconsider travel if you have reason to believe that you might be turned away at the border. Some people report that they are questioned more at ports of entry when entering under Advance Parole compared to entering with a visa. Though annoying, this is typical and is not cause for alarm. Make sure you bring your original Advance Parole document with you, not a copy. It is your “ticket” into the U.S. and you will not be admitted without it.
Where to Apply for Advance Parole I-131
Most people submit form I-131 with their Adjustment of Status application, submitting it to the same address. If you are filing your application later or are renewing your Advance Parole, where you send it will be based on the first three letters of your I-485 receipt number: the Illinois Service Center if your form I-485 receipt number begins with the letters MSC or does not have letters at the beginning, the Texas Service Center if your receipt notice begins with letters EAC or SRC or the Arizona Service Center if your receipt notice begins with LIN or WAC. You can find those addresses here. You will need to include supporting documentation with your application such as:
1. A copy of your I-485 receipt notice if you have already submitted it
2. A copy of your I-94, Arrival-Departure Record
3. A copy of your passport
4. Two passport-style photos
5. Documentation verifying your reason for travel – you can submit this if you have it, but USCIS generally will not require this if you are submitting or have a pending AOS application.
If you have an emergency situation where you must travel immediately, you can make an appointment at your local USCIS office to request an expedited document. You must bring proof of your emergency situation.
Is It Recommended to Travel on Advance Parole?
We recommend using your Advance Parole for emergency travel only. The reason it isn’t recommended to travel outside the U.S while you have a pending Green Card application is that an Advance Parole document is not an absolute guarantee that you will be allowed to enter the U.S. The CBP officer at the border still has the authority to decide if you are admissible to the U.S. Moreover, if your green card is denied while you are abroad you will not be permitted re- enter.
There is no downside to applying for an Advance Parole document, and it is something good to have even in case you need to travel urgently abroad. At Brudner Law, we can help you apply for Advance Parole and countless other immigration benefits. Give us a call today to find out how we can make the immigration process easier for you!