Are you planning to travel outside the United States while your immigration status is pending? If so, you might have heard about a little thing called “Advance Parole.” But what exactly is Advance Parole, and who qualifies for it? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide that breaks it all down in simple terms.
What Is Advance Parole?
Advance Parole is a special travel document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It allows certain individuals to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad, even if they don’t have a valid visa or green card. It’s like a golden ticket that lets you leave and return hassle-free while your immigration case is in progress.
Who Qualifies for Advance Parole?
Not everyone is eligible for Advance Parole. To qualify, you must fall into one of these categories:
Pending Adjustment of Status: If you’re in the process of adjusting your status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you can apply for Advance Parole. This includes beneficiaries of family-sponsored and employment-based petitions, as well as Diversity Visa (DV) applicants.
Asylum Applicants: If you’ve applied for asylum and want to travel abroad while your case is pending, Advance Parole may be an option for you.
T and U Visa Holders: Victims of human trafficking (T visa) or certain crimes (U visa) who are in the process of adjusting their status can also request Advance Parole.
DACA Recipients: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients can apply for Advance Parole for educational, employment, or humanitarian reasons.
Specific Employment Authorization Categories: If you have employment authorization based on certain categories, such as refugee status or temporary protected status (TPS), you may be eligible for Advance Parole.
Exceptional Circumstances: In rare cases, USCIS may grant Advance Parole to individuals facing emergency situations, like a serious illness or a family member’s funeral.
Now that you know who can qualify for Advance Parole, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty details of how to apply and what to expect.
How to Apply for Advance Parole
Getting Advance Parole involves a series of steps, but don’t let that overwhelm you. We’ll break it down into simple, digestible chunks.
Step 1: Complete Form I-131
The first step in your Advance Parole journey is filling out Form I-131, officially known as the “Application for Travel Document.” This form is your ticket to requesting Advance Parole. You can find it on the USCIS website and follow the instructions carefully.
Step 2: Gather Required Documents
To support your application, you’ll need to assemble a few essential documents:
Photocopies of your identification (passport, visa, and any previous Advance Parole documents).
Two passport-sized photos.
Proof of your eligibility category (e.g., Form I-797C, Notice of Action, for adjustment of status applicants).
Any additional documents specific to your category (e.g., employment authorization card for DACA recipients).
Step 3: Pay the Fees
USCIS doesn’t do things for free, so be prepared to pay the required filing fee for Form I-131. Check the USCIS website for the current fee amount and acceptable payment methods.
Step 4: Submit Your Application
Once you’ve filled out the form, gathered your documents, and paid the fee, it’s time to mail your application to the USCIS Lockbox facility. The address for submission can change, so make sure to double-check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information.
Step 5: Biometrics Appointment
After USCIS receives your application, they may schedule you for a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, they’ll take your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. This step helps verify your identity and conduct background checks.
Step 6: Wait Patiently
Now comes the hard part: waiting. Processing times can vary, so keep an eye on the USCIS website for updates on your case. If you receive a request for additional evidence (RFE), respond promptly to avoid delays.
Traveling with Advance Parole
Congratulations! Your Advance Parole document has been approved. Now, let’s talk about how to use it when traveling:
Plan Ahead: Before you pack your bags, make sure you’ve checked the expiration date on your Advance Parole document. You won’t be able to return to the U.S. if it expires while you’re abroad.
Boarding and Entry: Show your Advance Parole document to the airline or carrier when boarding your flight to the United States. Remember, it doesn’t guarantee entry; it simply allows you to seek admission.
Inspection at the Port of Entry: Upon arrival in the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will inspect your documents. Be prepared to explain your purpose for traveling and provide any supporting evidence if requested.
Keep Records: Always keep a copy of your Advance Parole document, along with your passport and any other relevant paperwork, in a safe place while traveling.
Advance Parole Tips and FAQs
Here are some common questions and tips to help you make the most of your Advance Parole:
Q: Can I travel anywhere with Advance Parole?
A: Generally, yes. You can travel to any country using Advance Parole, but be cautious about travel to countries with which the United States has strained diplomatic relations. Always check for any travel advisories or restrictions.
Q: Can I work with Advance Parole?
A: If you have employment authorization (e.g., through DACA or pending adjustment of status), you can continue to work in the U.S. after traveling with Advance Parole.
Q: Can my family members use my Advance Parole document?
A: No, your Advance Parole document is specific to you. Your family members must each have their own Advance Parole documents if they wish to travel.
Q: Can I apply for Advance Parole while I’m in removal proceedings (deportation proceedings)?
A: In most cases, yes, but it’s crucial to consult with an immigration attorney for guidance tailored to your situation.
Q: What if my Advance Parole application is denied?
A: If your application is denied, you won’t have Advance Parole, and leaving the country could jeopardize your immigration status. It’s essential to consult with an immigration attorney if this happens.
Advance Parole can be your key to traveling outside the United States while your immigration case is in progress. Whether you’re adjusting your status, seeking asylum, or in another eligible category, following the application process and guidelines is crucial.
Remember to plan your travels carefully, keep your documents up to date, and consult with an immigration attorney for personalized guidance. With Advance Parole, you can embark on your journey with peace of mind, knowing you have the necessary travel documents to return home.