Getting status and other U.S. immigration benefits may be out of reach for people with criminal records. If you have ever committed a felony, for example, you can't get immigration benefits. Advance Parole is a travel permit available to special immigrants and those adjusting status to green cards. For example, if you have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, you can travel abroad and return with Advance Parole. This article explains how you can qualify for Advance Parole, and whether or not a criminal record can keep you from getting Advance Parole.
Who is eligible for Advance Parole?
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows individuals to apply for Advance Parole to travel abroad and eventually return to the United States at a port of entry. If you are not a U.S. citizen or green card holder you can apply for a re-entry permit if you meet any of the following eligibility requirements:
- You have a pending application for adjustment of status through Form I-485
- You applied for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- You submitted an asylum application as an asylee
- You submitted an application for temporary resident status
- You have T or U nonimmigrant status
- You have humanitarian parole
- You received benefits through the Family Unity Program
- You are a DACA recipient
If you qualify, you’ll have to complete Form I-131( “Application for Travel Document”) and pay the filing fee to get Advance Parole. However, you can’t file Form I-131 if you are any of the following:
- A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- In the United States without legal immigration status (“undocumented”)
- A foreigner on an exchange visa eg:J-1 visas have a foreign residence requirement
You don’t need Advance Parole travel if you have a valid H-1(“temporary worker”) or L-1(“intracompany transferee”) visa. You can re-enter the U.S. with your work visa if it hasn’t expired.
Does a criminal record prevent you from applying for Advance Parole?
One frequently asked question (FAQ) is whether having a criminal record bars you from applying for Advance Parole. You’re welcome to apply for Advance Parole. But U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) may deny or reject your Advance Parole application if your criminal record makes you “inadmissible.”
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), central to U.S. immigration law, sets specific standards that make you “inadmissible” to the United States. Being “inadmissible” means you are not allowed to have an immigrant visa like a green card, or other U.S. visa. You may face removal proceedings if you’re without status because of your inadmissibility. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could also deny your entry if you become “inadmissible” while abroad. Previous unlawful presence or a record of committing certain severe crimes may make you “inadmissible” to the United States.
These crimes include:
- Aggravated felony
- Severe violations of religious freedom
Advance Parole is conditional, meaning it depends on your main adjustment of status application. If USCIS denies your main application due to an "inadmissible crime," USCIS will also revoke your Advance Parole document. You may still be able to get Advance Parole even with an “inadmissible” crime on your record. You can apply for a “waiver of inadmissibility” with a lawyer’s help. On the waiver application, you’ll have to give humanitarian reasons for your entry, such as how a family member will face significant hardship if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security(DHS) denies you certain immigration benefits.
Regardless, you should talk to an immigration lawyer or law firm before submitting a Form I-131 application if you have a criminal record.
Applying for Advance Parole with a criminal record can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your Advance Parole case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!