Once you are in the United States and you file an application for a green card, it’s not advisable to leave the country — unless you have an advance parole document.
The advance parole document lets you make short international trips while your US Citizenship and Immigration Services petitions are pending.
All About the Advance Parole Document
The advance parole document, or travel document as it is sometimes called, is not required to depart the United States.
However, if you leave the US while applying for lawful permanent residence, border authorities may deem that you abandoned your application and may not allow you back into the country.
It often takes anywhere from nine months to a year and a half to get a green card from the time the application is filed, and many applicants want to leave the United States for a number of reasons during that time, such as business trips, weddings or family emergencies.
The advance parole document must be applied for and received before the immigrant leaves the United States. Advance parole documents will not be shipped overseas.
How to Apply for the Advance Parole Document
To request an advance parole document, you will need to fill out and file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
This form can be filed concurrently with the main application for a green card (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). The application for advance parole also may be filed at a time when the I-485 is pending.
The cost of filing Form I-131 is $360. An $85 biometrics fee and subsequent biometrics appointment may be necessary as well.
The processing times vary, but the advance parole document is usually sent within three months of the filing. The document can be expedited for an additional fee if the applicant has a valid reason, such as a family medical emergency.
Applicants are advised not to take extended trips using the advance parole document. A month is generally considered to be the maximum amount of time spent overseas, and border officers will likely ask about the reason for travel. Advance parole documents are generally valid for one year and can be renewed if necessary.
A note: Many applicants who have lived in the United States for a while have let their visas expire. While they are back in legal status once the I-485 is on file with USCIS, they should not apply for the advance parole document if they were out of status for more than 180 days. Applicants who were out of status for more than six months in the United States will be ineligible to reenter the country after they left, even if they initially entered the US with a valid visa.
Is the Advance Parole Document Required for Everyone?
If you are in the United States under certain visa categories, you may be able to travel internationally without needing an advance parole document.
You won’t need an advance parole document if you have one of the following visas:
- H-1 temporary worker visa
- H-4 dependent of a temporary worker visa
- L-1 intracompany transferee visa
- L-2 spouse or dependent of an intracompany transferee visa
- K-3 spouse visa
- K-4 child of a US citizen visa
- V-2 spouse visa
- V-4 child of a lawful permanent resident visa
While the advance parole document doesn’t guarantee admission into the United States, many applicants use it easily and frequently to maintain business and family relationships while in the process of getting a green card.