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International Travel with an Advance Parole Document

Overview

This memo addresses international travel for individuals in the United States with a pending Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status (AOS) to that of a lawful permanent resident.  With limited exceptions (discussed below), an AOS application will be deemed abandoned if the applicant leaves the United States without first obtaining an Advance Parole (AP) travel document.

It is it is extremely important that you consult with an immigration attorney before you depart the U.S., as departing the U.S. without proper documentation may have severe consequences on your pending AOS application.

The Employment Authorization/Advance Parole “Combo Card”

In most cases, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues employment and travel authorization documents on a single document (often referred to as the “Combo Card”) for applicants with a pending AOS application.[1] The card looks similar to the standalone Employment Authorization Document (EAD) issued by USCIS, but includes a notation at the bottom that reads, "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole." A card with this notation serves as both an employment authorization and advance parole document.

Critically, although USCIS issues the EAD and AP documents on a single card, it is important to note that these are two very distinct immigration benefits. As such, rules that apply to the validity and renewal of EADs may not apply to the renewal of APs.

Validity of the Advance Parole Document

Based on the availability of an immigrant visa, USCIS will issue the EAD/AP Combo Card, or standalone AP document, for a period of either one (1) or two (2) years. USCIS may also, in its discretion, issue the AP for a longer or shorter validity period, depending on the particulars of the case. 

Travel with an Advance Parole Document

In general, individuals applying for advance parole on the basis of a pending AOS application must be approved for advance parole prior to leaving the United States in order to avoid the abandonment of the pending AOS application. It is therefore critical that individuals obtain the proper documentation before leaving the United States.

There are certain exceptions to this rule. For example, an individual may have an approved advance parole document while an advance parole renewal application is pending with USCIS, and may travel internationally on the approved advanced parole document, provided the document is valid for the entire duration of the time abroad and is still valid upon return to the U.S.

Nevertheless, we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before departing the U.S. to ensure you have the proper documentation to travel.

Finally, please note that Advance Parole does not guarantee admission into the United States, as individuals with Advance Parole are still subject to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection process at the port of entry.

Renewal of an Advance Parole Document

A Form I-131 application to renew an Advance Parole document can be filed up to 120 days before the expiration of the current AP. However, if the application for AP renewal is filed concurrently with a Form I-765 application for employment authorization renewal, the applications may be filed up to 180 days prior to the expiration of the EAD/AP Combo Card.

Exception – Individuals with H or L nonimmigrant Status

With some exceptions, an individual with a pending AOS application who holds valid H or L nonimmigrant status may travel internationally with a valid H-1B, H-4, L-1 or L-2 visa.  If an individual holds one of these statuses at the time of departure and returns in that same visa classification, the pending AOS application will not be abandoned. 

Please note that there are some exceptions to the above rule.  As mentioned above, we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before departing the U.S. to ensure you have the proper documentation to travel.

 

[1] USCIS may separate EAD and Advance Parole documents as warranted. For example, applicants will receive an AP without employment authorization if they do not request employment authorization, or if their Form I-131 is approved but Form I-765 is denied. 

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