Advance parole is a special permission granted by USCIS, in the form of a travel document, to be able to temporarily travel overseas while living in the United States and awaiting your green card or while on another noncitizen immigration status. If you travel outside of the United States while your green card application is pending, it will be terminated when you leave the county, except if you have a valid advance parole travel document in hand with you when leaving the U.S. In this guide, we’ll explore how to apply for advance parole, the consequences for not obtaining it, who is eligible to apply, and more!

In our latest video, Managing Attorney Shilpa Malik provides insights into everything you need to know about traveling outside the U.S. while your green card application is pending.

Who Qualifies for Advance Parole?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issues four distinct types of travel documents for individuals with different types of immigration statuses to leave and reenter the country lawfully. In most cases, it is advised to apply for these travel documents prior to leaving the United States to avoid any challenges upon reentering the country.

The 4 types of travel documents include:

  • Advance parole
    • Typically valid for one or two years 
  •  Refugee travel document for refugees and aslyees
    • Valid for one year
  • Re-entry permit for permanent residents who will travel for more than one year
    •  Valid for two years for the first two permits then one year for the third and subsequent
  • Carrier documentation

“Any person who is not a U.S. citizen or noncitizen U.S. national is subject to immigration review each time the person seeks admission to the United States from any place outside the United States. Even if you have already been admitted as a permanent resident (you have a Green Card) you are subject to review by an immigration official. If, during such review, you are determined to be inadmissible (even though you may have been admissible previously), you may be denied admission.”

As previously mentioned, advance parole allows you to reenter the U.S. after traveling overseas without needing to apply for a unique visa. Airlines accept the advance parole travel document (the same way they would a visa) as proof from the government that you are able to reenter the country. Note that this does not replace your passport so still travel with that as well. Also, be aware that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the right to deny you entry at an airport or border crossing even if you have advance parole, based on their determination.

Most commonly, individuals who have a pending Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status or a pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal are the ones who apply for advance parole. Should you fail to obtain advance parole and leave the U.S. while Form I-485 is still pending then USCIS will reject your case, with the exception if you meet certain criteria for individuals with nonimmigrant statuses. The same goes if you leave while your asylum case is pending without receiving advance parole then USCIS will make the assumption that you have abandoned your case.

Advance Parole vs Reentry Permit

The main difference is that a reentry permit is issued to permanent U.S. residents while advance parole is granted to foreign nationals who don’t have permanent resident status. They are very distinguishable in their appearance because a reentry permit resembles a passport whereas an advance parole approval is a single piece of paper with the individual’s photo. If you are using an advance parole document to reenter the country be sure to still carry your passport with you. To get a reentry permit, you would need to file Form I-131.

Form I-512 to Apply for Advance Parole Document

If you are awaiting an adjustment of status application that is pending, were admitted into the United States as a refugee or have a pending asylum case, receiving benefits under the Family Unity Program, or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) then you need to file Form I-512. Below is a comprehensive description of who else might need to apply for advance parole depending on your immigration journey.

Adjustment of Status Applicants: Any applicant for an adjustment of status that still has a pending case needs to obtain advance parole before leaving the U.S. to prevent USCIS from considering their case abandoned. You do not need to specify the reason for your travel when applying for advanced parole and requests are generally accepted for whichever type of adjustment of status application you have pending (employment, family, asylum, refugee, etc.)

Learn about H-1B Travel While I-485 is Pending.

Asylum Applicants: If you are an asylum applicant you will need to get advance parole before departing the country for temporary travel in order to avoid USCIS from considering your pending I-589 abandoned. In these cases, if the travel is not absolutely necessary, it is often recommended to not depart the U.S. while your application is pending because if you return to the country you are claiming to escape persecution from, it can hinder the basis of your claim.

Temporary Protected Status Recipients: Those who have received TPS need to have advance parole before departing the United States to avoid violating the continuous physical presence requirement for upholding temporary protected status.

Other Non-Citizens: Individuals with another form of non-citizen status like recipients of humanitarian parole und section INA 212(d)(5) can receive advance parole if they can prove that their travel is from an emergency humanitarian reason or benefits the pubic good.

Form I-131 Application for Travel Document

While Form I-131 is also an application for a travel document it is different than Form I-512. Form I-131 is used to apply for re-entry permits, refugee travel documents, advance parole travel documents (including parole into the U.S. for humanitarian reasons), or advance permission to travel for CNMI long-term residents.

If you are a DACA recipient, you should apply for Advance parole using Form I-131. DACA recipients can get advance parole if travel is necessary for employment (training, conferences, meeting clients, etc.), educational (study abroad programs or academic research), or humanitarian reasons. What constitutes humanitarian reasons? This can be for medical treatment, services for a deceased relative, visiting a sick relative, etc.

After you’ve applied for it then you will receive Form I-512L, Authorization for Parole of an Alien into the United States. The most efficient way to submit the I-131 is n tandem with your green card application (Form I-485). The best part is that there is no extra fee if you submit them at the same time. Include a copy of your photo I.D. like the photo page in your passport in addition to two passport-seized photos.

If you have already submitted your green card application and need a travel document you can still do so separately. When submitting Form I-131, include the copy of your photo identification, the two passport-sized photos and a copy of your receipt notice from your green card application that shows you paid the application fee.

I-131 applicants for reentry permits can leave the U.S. after attending their biometrics appointment and pick up their travel document at the U.S. consulate or embassy overseas (should be requested on the I-131 application).

I-131 Filing Fee

The fee for this form varies. See the chart below depending on the type of travel document you are seeking.

i-131 filing fee

Learn more about H-1B Fees.

News Update for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) 

Based on an order, effective December 7, 2020, USCIS will accept the following:

  • First-time requests for consideration of deferred action under DACA based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • DACA renewal requests based on the terms of the DACA policy in effect prior to September 5, 2017, and in accordance with the Court’s December 4, 2020, order;
  • Extending one-year grants of deferred action under DACA to two years
  • Extending one-year employment authorization documents  under DACA to two years

Advance Parole Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to the most commonly asked questions about this topic:

Why do I need a travel document? 

Green cards can often take months to years to process and in that time people typically need to travel for business, to visit family and a number of other reasons. You need to get advance parole while your green card is pending to avoid having it considered abandoned and then denied as a result. If this happens you would have to go through the paperwork process all over again and pay the fees again. In many cases it’s advantageous to apply for advance parole at the same time as you submit your green application. The travel document card will be valid for one year after being issued.

Can I leave the U.S. before I receive my travel document?

No, do not leave the country until you have it in hand to avoid consequences.

How can I check the processing time for my travel document?

USCIS updates processing times once a month.

Who is not eligible for advance parole?

You cannot be eligible for advance parole if you are currently under removal proceedings, currently living in the U.S. without a valid immigration status after entering illegally, currently have a valid previously issued reentry permit or travel document (unless it was lost or returned to USCIS), or are the beneficiary of a private bill.

How long does it take to get advance parole?

Under typical circumstances it can take 2-3 months for processing but due to COVID backlogs, it may take longer at this point.

What if I file Form I-131 to request an advance permission to travel for CNMI long-term residents document but don’t receive it and travel? 

If you leave the U.S. without the advance permission travel document then your status will be automatically terminated.

Is advance parole with Form I-131 eligible for a fee waiver?

At this time it is not eligible. If, however, you have a pending adjustment of status application filed with Form I-485 (on or after July 30, 2007) and you paid that fee, then you can receive advance parole without needing to pay the additional I-131 fee.

What information do I need to detail on the advance parole request?

You need to provide all the standard biographic information as well as the reason for your travel, which country/countries you will visit and the reason for the advance parole request.

Am I guaranteed reentry into the U.S. after getting advance parole?

No, you are not guaranteed entry because Customs and Border Protection still needs to inspect everyone who enters the country and if they find you inadmissible under section INA 212(a) then they can deny your entry even with advance parole.

Can I get expedited processing for my advance parole application?

In some situations, you may be able to get expedited processing for your advance parole application. Situations include emergency humanitarian reasons, urgent financial hardship for an individual or company, etc. Consult your lawyer if you require expedited processing.

If I don’t have current lawful status in the U.S. can I get advance parole?

No, you need to have lawful U.S. status in order to be eligible for the advance parole permission to reenter the U.S. upon departing.

Are advance parole and a re-entry permit the same?

No, they are different. Advance parole is only for non-residence and comes as a document card which is valid for one or two years. Reentry permits are granted to U.S. residents (typically for two years) and look like a passport book.

If I have H-1B status and come back in to the United States with Parole can I extend my H-1B status? 

You are permitted to apply for an extension to your H-1B status if you resume working with your H-1B employer after reentering the county and do not work according to an Employment Work Document or with another employer.

How long can I stay out of the U.S. with my advance parole?

You can stay outside the U.S. for no longer than the duration of your advance parole card and these are typically valid for 1-2 years. Check your specific card for details.

If I have over a year of Unlawful Presence, should I still get Advance Parole? 

Yes, you should still apply for an advance parole document. If you travel outside of the United States with advance parole and in your past accumulated over a year or 180 days+ of unlawful presence you will still not trigger the three or ten-year bar of inadmissibility because it won’t count as a “departure” due to the AP.

Is it safe to travel on advance parole?

Yes, it is safe to use but if your green card is still pending, it is typically advised to avoid traveling unless it is an emergency or absolutely necessary.

Does my advance parole document replace my passport?

No, it does not replace your passport but it does act in lieu of a visa.

Who is eligible for advance parole?

Foreign nationals who have a pending adjustment of status application are eligible, as well as those under the Family Unity Program, foreign nationals who applied for asylum as well as Temporary Protected Status.

How long does it take to get approval and can advance parole be denied?

Yes, it can be denied and it can take 2-3 months or more to have your application processed due to COVID-related backlogs and delays.

How long is advance parole good for?

It is typically valid for one year and it can be used to enter the country multiple times. When it is presented upon entering the United States, it will be stamped.

What are the benefits of Advance Parole? 

One of the benefits is that it allows you to reenter the U.S. after traveling overseas without needing to go through the entire process of obtaining a visa. The second really important benefit is that it maintains your pending application with USCIS whether it is an adjustment of status application or other pending application.