For Deferred Action and Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and adjustment of status applicants, the U.S. government makes provision for a travel document called Advance Parole. Advance Parole allows immigrants based in the United States to be able to travel abroad while in status or while waiting for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to process their paperwork. If you have DACA or are applying for adjustment of status, your approved Advance Parole document will serve the same purpose as a U.S. visa, allowing re-entry to the United States upon returning. In this article, we explain Advance Parole and how to get it and then highlight some of the risks involved in traveling to the United States on Advance Parole.
What is Advance Parole?
Advance Parole is a travel document allowing you to leave and return to the United States while waiting for legal status without jeopardizing your green card application. Advance Parole is relevant if you are applying for DACA or adjusting status as a refugee, asylee, or other eligible applicant. For DACA recipients, Advance Parole is important for maintaining DACA status even while abroad. With this re-entry permit, you can appear at any U.S. port of entry to request parole. When border patrol officials grant your parole request, then you can enter the United States legally.
Advance Parole provides a path to re-entry, but it does not guarantee your re-entry into the United States. The U.S. immigration official at the port of entry will make that decision. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services grants Advance Parole documents that are valid for one year. You can take trips outside the United States for as long as your Advance Parole document remains valid. On your trips, Advance Parole will serve as a replacement for a U.S. visa. However, you still need your foreign passport to travel.
How can you get Advance Parole?
You will need to file Form I-131, officially named “Application for Travel Document” to get Advance Parole. You will also need to pay the filing fee of $575 and include supporting evidence to prove your eligibility. The processing time for Advance Parole is about 3 months.
Suppose you are applying for permanent residence from inside the United States. You should submit your Advance Parole request along with your adjustment of status package.
If you are applying for Advance Parole from outside of the United States, you need your local U.S. embassy or consulate to approve your Advance Parole application. It will have to be because 1) you have submitted an immigrant visa, and 2) can’t get a visitor visa for some reason. You’ll also have to explain why you need Advance Parole. You could explain humanitarian reasons why your trip is necessary, such as preventing family members from relying on government care.
If you need to travel rather urgently, you can apply for emergency Advance Parole at a local U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office. The local USCIS office will grant you emergency Advance Parole the same day if they approve your emergency request.
Is it risky to travel with Advance Parole?
Advance Parole travel is always a risky choice. Advance Parole permits you to approach a U.S. port of entry to request parole. But Advance Parole does not guarantee re-entry, even with the correct documentation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) could prevent any non-U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident from re-entering. CBP officers or border patrol, not your Advance Parole status, control your re-entry.
For DACA applicants, this is especially dangerous because of your previous unlawful presence. Under immigration law, you could face a three-year or ten-year ban from returning to the United States if you’ve spent any amount of time in the country without legal immigration status. With a lawyer’s help, you can apply for a waiver of inadmissibility so you don’t have to wait out the bar. But if you had multiple illegal entries or ever encountered deportation or removal proceedings, you could even get a permanent ban. It’s a great idea to consult an immigration lawyer or law firm before choosing to travel.
For adjustment of status applicants, your Advance Parole depends on whether U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your application to receive a green card and immigration benefits. If USCIS denies your pending application to change your nonimmigrant status while you are abroad, your Advance Parole status is also gone.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USCIS could remove your Advance Parole status at any time. Although this is rare, you should be aware of this potential risk before you decide to travel.
Traveling under Advance Parole 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 application 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!