The process of obtaining your green card to become a permanent resident of the United States is not intended to be easy. It requires careful attention to detail and includes multiple steps that must be completed correctly. The process can last from two to three years, though it can happen faster. Life is unpredictable. Sometimes, things beyond your control need your attention, such as funerals, marriages, and new babies. So what happens if you have to leave the United States while applying for long-term or permanent residency or other types of immigration status. It’s a good question, one that U.S. law considers. Before you can leave the country, you must apply and get approved for what’s called “advance parole.”
The immigration attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group have put together this guide to explain everything you need to know about advance parole, so you do not inadvertently put the hard work of your immigration status at risk.
What is Advance Parole?
Advance parole represents a government “permission slip” for a particular set of circumstances under U.S. immigration law. Individuals seeking either permanent residency or approval for certain visas sometimes find they need to travel outside the United States before their immigration status has been settled.
Obtaining advance parole represents the government’s approval of your travel and enables you to exit and return to the United States without putting your standing immigration proceedings at risk.
It’s good to keep in mind that even after your immigration status is finally determined, you are still subject to immigration review anytime you’ve left the country and return to seek to re-enter the United States. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, this even applies to green cardholders.
Who Can Qualify for Advance Parole and How?
Advance parole applies to people in the midst of an adjustment of the status case or another type of immigration proceeding within the United States. This, under certain circumstances, may include people seeking:
- Green cards.
- Temporary Protected Status.
If you fall into one of these categories and have to leave the United States while your case is pending, you can request advance parole for any reason. But it’s not advised to do so unless it’s an emergency.
Why is Advance Parole Important?
Leaving the United States without the proper permissions can bring an abrupt end to your immigration proceedings. Green card applicants who do not have advance parole may not be admitted to the United States upon seeking to return.
If they are admitted, the government may deem their applications as abandoned. This essentially means you go to the back of the line and have to start over. Keep in mind that even once you receive permanent immigration status, you may still face added scrutiny when you leave and return to the United States. “Admission into the United States is not guaranteed even if the appropriate documents are obtained,” according to USCIS.
How Do You Get Advance Parole?
You must fill out the USCIS I-131 Application for Travel document form to obtain advance parole. The form asks for your name, contact information, address, immigration status, the reason for travel, and other personal information.
You will have a space to state the purpose of your trip, and you will have to identify when you are leaving and when you are coming back.
Tips on Filing for Advance Parole
The most important advice is the one easiest to overlook. Do not forget to sign your form I-131 because it gives USCIS immediate grounds to reject your application.
It’s essential to know precisely what your immigration status is at the time you are filing the I-131 because your status will determine where to mail your application. You will not be rejected if you send it to the wrong address, but you may get delayed in obtaining approvals. Make sure you carefully check addresses for filing Form I-131 to ensure your form conveys to the correct office.
Make sure to complete all relevant sections of the form, including information about you and application type. Failing to complete one or more sections is also grounds for immediate rejection.
Other tips, as provided by USCIS:
- Make sure you are using the latest form. USCIS recommends downloading the form directly from the USCIS website, filling it out electronically, and printing it for mailing.
- If you choose to fill the form out by hand, use a black-ink pen and write carefully and neatly. Stay within the spaces provided.
- Steer clear of highlighting any sections or making corrections using correction fluid or tape. USCIS scanners will not be able to read those sections properly. If you make an error, start over.
- Check and pay the appropriate fee. Paying the wrong fee is also grounds for rejection. The I-131 fee is $575.
- Do not send the form as a two-sided print. Only send documents printed on one side.
Trust the Experienced Immigration Counsel at De Castroverde Law
One advantage of working with immigration counsel at De Castroverde Law is our experience in filing applications for advance parole. We can help you understand the risks of leaving the country and guide you through obtaining the proper legal permission to enable you to return. We can also advise you on how to fill out and package the I-131 form, so you don’t encounter unnecessary delays.
De Castroverde Law Group provides full-service counsel on all critical immigration matters, including adjustment of immigration status, representation in deportation proceedings, immigrant visa processing, family-based immigration, and more.
No matter what immigration issues you’re facing, De Castroverde is here to help. Our bilingual immigration attorneys and professional staff will listen carefully to your needs and give you the best possible professional advice to do what’s right for you and your family’s future.
Contact us for a free consultation. You can reach us by phone at 702-827-4891 or send us a message online to see how we can help.