The so-called "combo card" combined two identity cards of importance to non-citizens in the United State: an Employment Authorization Document (also known as a work permit or EAD) with Advance Parole permission (allowing people to travel and return to the U.S. without abandoning their green card application-in-progress.) The net result was that recipients didn't need to carry around two separate items. (The EAD was always a plastic identity card, while Advance Parole permission formerly came as paperwork.)
However, in 2022, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) stopped issuing this type of card. Please regard the below discussion as largely historical.
Why Didn't USCIS Continue Issuing the Combo Card?
The convenience of consolidating these two items didn't come with much in the way of other benefits to the recipients. In particular, it:
- Wasn't available to everyone. USCIS gave this combo card only to people applying for adjustment of status (the procedure for getting a green card while already living in the U.S.; lawfully in most cases). Applicants for an EAD or AP on any other basis had to go by the old system of carrying two separate documents.
- Didn't lower applicant fees. When applying for adjustment of status, the fee is always calculated to include Form I-485, I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization Document) and I-131 (Application for Travel Document). Even if applicants were to elect not to turn in one or both of the latter two forms, it wouldn't lower the overall fee; and neither would receiving a combo card. What's more, if applicants lost their combo card or it was damaged and they needed a new one, they would have to file both Form I-765 and I-131 at the same time, and pay both fees: as of mid-2022, $410 for the I-765 and $575 (plus $85 for "biometrics" (photo and fingerprints) for the I-131.
- Wouldn't be granted if the applications got separated. If, for example, USCIS denied an I-131 but granted the I-765, the applicant wouldn't be given a combo card. If in that situation an applicant realized that they made a mistake on the I-131 and refiled later, they would have to settle for a regular set of AP paperwork. Similarly, if someone filed an I-765 and I-131 at different times or in different packages, USCIS would be unable to consolidate them, and would not issue a combo card.
Other Details Regarding the Former Combo Card
Applicants who submitted separate applications for an EAD and for AP needed to include two identical, passport-style photos with each application. These usually needed to be professionally done, in order to meet the size and other requirements. But when filing the two applications concurrently for the combo card, applicants needed to provide only two photos.
Once issued, the combo card typically last one or two years, depending on what USCIS decided. That gave plenty of time for USCIS to make a decision on the green card application (unless, of course, the per country limitations (quotas) delay application processing).
Once you have a U.S. green card, you will not need a separate work permit, nor will you need advance parole in order to travel.