Advance Parole for Traveling Adjustment of Status Applicants

Advance Parole lets you preserve your Adjustment of Status (green card) application while you travel outside the United States.

Adjustment of Status is the many-months long process that some intending immigrants living in the United States use to apply for permanent resident status (a green card). An immigrant who has filed an Adjustment of Status application is allowed to live legally in the United States and apply for a work permit while awaiting an interview at an office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At that interview, or soon after, the application for permanent residence will normally be approved or denied.

However, the wait for an interview can be many months long, and numerous immigrants wish to travel outside the United States during that time. Perhaps they'd like to visit their home country or simply take a vacation. But without advance planning, such travel can destroy one's immigration case. For starters, if the immigrant doesn't apply for an receive what's called "Advance Parole" before leaving the United States, USCIS will assume the immigrant is no longer interested in the green card -- that is, he or she is "abandoning" the application -- and it will cancel the case. 

Advance Parole is a travel document you apply for that gives you permission to return to the United States in order to resume your Adjustment of Status application when your travel is completed. Fortunately, it's easy to apply for Advance Parole, using one form that you'll submit at the same time as your Adjustment of Status application.

The Advance Parole Application Process

You can apply for Advance Parole using USCIS Form I-131, available on the USCIS website. You won't even have to pay the fee that other people do -- it's included in your Adjustment of Status application fee.

Important Cautions

Here are a few crucial things to know about Advance Parole.

  • Having Advance Parole granted does not mean you are guaranteed permission to re-enter the U.S. -- it just means that you haven't abandoned your Adjustment of Status application.
  • Until 2012, Advance Parole would not help you return if you had been living unlawfully in the United States -- most likely because you overstayed the expiration date on your visa -- then left the country. Under the immigration laws' grounds of inadmissibility, people who had lived unlawfully in the United States for more than 180 days may be prevented from reentering for three years. Those who lived here unlawfully for more than one year may be prevented from returning for ten years. Fortunately, a 2012 decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) called Matter of Arabally and Yerabelly held that departures by people with pending adjustment applications and advance parole permission would NOT be considered to trigger these time bars.
  • If you are an asylee and return to the country from which you escaped then the U.S. might deny your Adjustment of Status application. The logic is that if you feel secure returning to a country from which you sought asylum then you are not really afraid of persecution there and do not need the protection of the United States.

Exceptions to the Advance Parole Requirements

There are exceptions to the Advance Parole requirement. If you hold a valid H-1, H-4, K-3, K-4, L-1, L-2, V-2, or V-3 visa or status then you may travel without Advance Parole approval. For example, if you are traveling for the same employer that your H or L visa was issued for then you don’t need Advance Parole. The H or L status must be valid and you must have evidence that you filed an Adjustment of Status application.

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