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Traveling Abroad Before Your Advance Parole Document is Issued May Cause Serious Problems

If you have a pending Adjustment of Status (Form I-485), your lawyer has likely cautioned you (repeatedly) that traveling abroad before your Advance Parole document is issued may result in the denial of your I-485. These cautions should be taken seriously and any traveling during Adjustment of Status should be carefully considered prior to leaving the U.S.
Here is a quick Q&A with Managing Partner Rosanna Berardi regarding this important topic.
Question: What exactly is an Advance Parole document?
Answer: The Advance Parole document is typically applied for on Form I-131 and is included as part of the standard Adjustment of Status package. It grants permission for a foreign national who is applying for a green card to leave the country and reenter while the green card petition is pending.
Question: What type of travel is considered “traveling abroad?” Can I go to Florida? What about Canada?
Answer: Advance Parole is not needed to travel within the continental U.S. or between parts of the U.S. – this would include Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands – as long as you do not enter a foreign port or place during any part of the journey. Travel anywhere else requires a foreign national with a pending Adjustment of Status to have an Advance Parole document in order to reenter the U.S. Pay special attention to your itinerary if you are planning a cruise. If the cruise is traveling to other countries, or non-U.S. territories, an Advance Parole document will be necessary.
You must wait until you have your Advance Parole document before departing the U.S. Just filing it is not enough. If you leave while the Advance Parole application is pending, it will be denied and you would likely be stuck outside the U.S.
There is one exception. If the foreign national holds either H-1B or L nonimmigrant status, they should talk to their attorney as travel may be allowed.
Question: What if there is an emergency that requires someone to leave while the Advance Parole is pending?
Answer: If there is an extremely urgent situation, an InfoPass appointment can be scheduled with a local USCIS Field Office to request an Emergency Advance Parole document. You will need to bring some specific documents including evidence of the emergency (medical documentation, death certificate, etc.). USCIS will not grant Emergency Advance Parole documents for tourism, business or other non-life and death issues.
Question: What is the best advice you can give a foreign national regarding traveling while an Adjustment of Status is pending?
Answer: If it’s possible, just avoid it. If it’s not possible or you aren’t sure – consult an immigration attorney. Your investment in time and money to get to this point in the green card process is too high to be denied due to unauthorized departures from the U.S. If you can’t be “landlocked” in the U.S. for those 90 days, speak to your immigration lawyer about the Visa Processing option. You can read more about that option here:
When in doubt, it pays to speak to an experienced immigration attorney. For more information or a consultation, please contact Berardi Immigration Law today!