USCIS Reminds Advance Parole Applicants Not to Travel Abroad Before I-131 Approved

Make sure you wait for USCIS to approve your advance parole application before you leave the country. If you travel abroad while the application is pending, USCIS will deny your application.

**LEGAL UPDATE **

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services confirmed through a stakeholder engagement with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) that it will deny applications for advance parole if the applicant travels outside the United States while the application is pending.

This reflects a new trend for people who currently have a valid advance parole or valid H, K, L or V nonimmigrant status. USCIS previously routinely approved applications for such persons who traveled abroad while the application was pending.

Advance parole allows a person with a pending I-485 adjustment of status application (for a green card) to travel abroad and keep the I-485 pending. If an adjustment applicant travels abroad without first obtaining advance parole, USCIS will deny the I-485, based on the person having supposedly abandoned it.

The advance parole application instructions specifically state on page six that USCIS will consider the advance parole application abandoned if the applicant departs while it is pending. USCIS cited this section of the instructions as authority for the recent advance parole application denials.

It is well settled that persons with valid H or L nonimmigrant status who have pending I-485 Adjustment of Status applications have the option of obtaining advance parole or using an H or L visa to return to the United States. This often has the advantage of avoiding the need to visit the U.S. consulate or embassy abroad to get a new visa before returning to the United States. Also, if H or L visa holders also have valid advance parole documents, it’s up to them whether they use their H or L visas or advance parole to enter the United States.

Although the recent statement by USCIS was informal, until there is clear and authoritative guidance on whether traveling abroad while the advance parole application is pending will result in a denial due to abandonment, the safer course of action is to remain in the U.S. until USCIS approves the application.

Effective Date: August 22, 2017