Your Guide to Advance Parole: What is it and Who Needs It?
If you are waiting for your green card application to go through but you want to leave the United States, you'll need advance parole. Advance parole enables you to safely leave the country without canceling your green card application. This guide explains advance parole, what it is, and who needs it.
What is Advance Parole?
Advance parole (sometimes simply called a travel document) is travel authorization for people who are waiting for a green card in the United States.
If you are granted advance parole, it's a bit like permission from the U.S. government to leave and return without impacting your green card application.
The main purpose behind advance parole is to give people the opportunity to travel abroad while awaiting a green card. That's because it can take a very long time for a green card petition to make its way through the system and be approved.
In fact, it can take anywhere from 10 months to several years (or longer, in some cases) for green card application to get approval. For people who have family or business ties in other countries, or for people who simply enjoy traveling, advance parole is essential.
What Happens if You Leave the U.S. Without Getting Advance Parole?
If you leave the United States without being approved for advance parole, Your green card application will be terminated. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, will consider your application “abandoned” and deny it if the agency discovers that you left the country without advance parole.
The only way to prevent the termination of your green card application is to apply for and be approved for advance parole.
Who Qualifies for Advance Parole?
Anyone who has a pending adjustment of status green card application qualifies to apply for advance parole. However, there is no guarantee that USCIS will approve your application, or even that the agency will review it in time for an upcoming trip.
You can also apply for advance parole if you:
- Applied for temporary protected status, or TPS
- Submitted an asylum application or are a current asylee
- Currently have a pending application for temporary resident status under Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act
- Are on T nonimmigrant or U nonimmigrant status
- Have been granted humanitarian parole
- Received benefits through the Family Unity Program
- Are a DACA recipient
When you apply for advance parole it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with being out of the country while USCIS is evaluating your green card application. There’s a chance that you may miss a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, or other notices (potentially a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) your green card application), while you’re away. That’s why having an immigration attorney to oversee all of your immigration affairs is key.
Related: How to renew your expired green card
Who Does Not Qualify for Advance Parole?
Some people don't qualify for advance parole. You can't apply for it if you:
- Live in the United States without a valid immigration status after you have entered unlawfully
- Already have a valid re-entry permit or refugee document
- Are in the United States on a J visa
- Are in the United States on a visa with a foreign residence requirement
- Are currently in removal proceedings
There are also other circumstances which may preclude you from applying for advance parole. You should talk to your attorney about your options if you're not sure whether you qualify.
Does Everyone Need Advance Parole to Leave the Country?
You only need advance parole to leave and return to the United States if you are adjusting your status or fall into one of the categories listed in the earlier section, “Who Qualifies for Advance Parole?”
You most likely do not need travel authorization if you are a temporary worker under a valid H-1 visa (or the dependent of an H-1 worker on an H-4 visa), or if you’re an intra-company transferee under a valid L-1 visa (or a spouse or child who’s in the U.S. on an H-2 visa). You also most likely do not need a travel document if you’re a spouse or child of a U.S. citizen (K-3 or K-4) or a Spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident (V-2 or V-3).
However, it is your responsibility to ensure that you don't need advance parole before you leave the United States. If you leave the United States without advance parole and it turns out that you were supposed to have it, USCIS will cancel your application for a green card, and you may not be able to get back into the country. You should talk to an attorney if you are unsure.
Is it Easy to Get a Travel Document?
Many people choose to work with an attorney to apply for advance parole. That's because it requires a significant amount of paperwork, and in many cases, people simply submit an application for travel authorization with their green card application.
How Much Does Advance Parole Cost?
USCIS fees can change at any time, so the best way to find out how much it travel document will cost you is to visit the USCIS Filing Fees page or talk to your attorney.
When Can You Apply for Advance Parole?
You can, and should, apply for advance parole when you submit your green card application. That way, you won't have to put off an important trip because your green card is still pending.
Some people choose to file an application for advance parole and an application for employment authorization together with their green card application. In these instances, USCIS separately processes the application for advance parole and the application for employment authorization—adjudicating the request for employment authorization first in order to shorten its processing time. If it’s approved, the agency will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
USCIS will then make a decision about the application for advance parole, and if it’s approved the agency will issue a travel authorization document.
If you didn't apply for advance parole with your green card application, that's okay; you can still apply when you have travel plans. Just keep in mind that it may take some time for your advance parole to be authorized. USCIS has an online database you can use to check application processing times based on the immigration benefit you seek.
In some cases, it’s possible to apply for expedited processing of your application for advance parole or to receive emergency advance parole documents—for instance, to visit or care for a gravely ill loved one in your country of origin. Your attorney will need to contact the USCIS Contact Center to request an emergency advance parole appointment.
You will need to bring a completed and signed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, as well as the appropriate filing fee. You’ll also need to bring evidence that supports your emergency request, such as some type of medical documentation or a death certificate, as well as two passport-style photos you can use in the event your emergency request is approved.
Note: You must apply for advance parole before you leave the United States.
Is Advance Parole Available For DACA?
At the time of this writing, DACA recipients are entitled to apply for travel authorization documents. However, as political climates shift, that may change. If you are a DACA recipient, you should consult with an attorney about your eligibility to apply for advance parole.
How Do You Apply For A Travel Document?
Many people choose to apply for a travel document at the same time they apply for a green card. However, it isn't necessary to do so. You can apply for a travel document at any time while your green card application is pending or when you fall into one of the categories outlined in the earlier section, “Who Qualifies for Advance Parole?”
In addition to the documentation previously mentioned (Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and two passport-style photos), you’ll need to include these items in your application for a travel document:
- A copy of a government-issued identity document that has your photo, name, and date of birth. (This could be your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or your passport)
- A copy of your I-485 receipt letter, referred to as Form I-797C, Notice of Action, if your application for a green card is still pending.
It’s important to accurately complete and submit these documents so that you’ll be able to travel outside of the United States when you need to and return without a problem. That’s why you should get the help of an immigration attorney. Your attorney can file the appropriate forms with USCIS for you. Your lawyer will also be able to track your application’s status and keep you updated if USCIS needs more information from you.
How Long Does A Travel Document Last? Is It Renewable?
A travel document lasts for one year. It’s renewable, and you may file for renewal as early as 120 days before its expiration. To renew your travel document, you will need to submit Form I-131, along with a copy of your existing travel document. You’ll also need a copy of the notice of receipt from your green card application, as well as two passport-sized photographs.
Do You Need To Talk To An Immigration Attorney About Advance Parole And Travel Documents?
If you need to speak to an immigration attorney about applying for advance parole, we're here to help. Call our office or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation with an immigration attorney who can give you the answers you need and help you get travel authorization to get back into the United States after a trip abroad.