How to Apply for "Advance Parole" to Leave and Re-Enter the United States

Advance Parole is permission granted to qualified foreign nationals to re-enter the United States after temporarily traveling abroad.

Non-citizens who can apply for advance parole are those who do not have valid immigrant visas and:

An alien in one of these categories who does not obtain advance parole BEFORE departing the U.S. may be inadmissible to the United States upon return.

Additionally, the alien will be deemed to have abandoned his or her pending application for immigration benefits. He or she would then need to restart the immigration process through consular processing in a foreign country.

The form to request an Advance Parole Document is Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

It costs $575 to file an I-131, though a fee waiver may be available to applicants who can prove an inability to pay.

To help you better understand advance parole, our California immigration lawyers discuss, below:

You may also wish to see our articles on:

travelers waiting at airport immigration checkpoint

1. Who can apply for advance parole?

Advance parole allows certain aliens who do not hold a valid immigrant visa to return to the U.S. lawfully after traveling abroad.

People who should obtain advance parole before leaving the U.S. include those who:

  • Have a pending Form I-485 application to adjust status (obtain a “green card”);
  • Have a pending application for, or been granted, Temporary Protected Status (TPS);
  • Have been granted TPS or T or U nonimmigrant status;
  • Have been granted humanitarian parole pursuant to INA section 212(d)(5);
  • Have applied for asylum in the U.S.;
  • Have been admitted to the U.S. as a refugee or asylee;
  • Have been granted benefits under the Family Unity Program; or
  • Have a pending application for temporary resident status pursuant to INA section 245A.

1.1. Can travel be for any purpose?

In general, to obtain advance parole, an alien must be traveling for “urgent humanitarian reasons” or in furtherance of a “significant public benefit.”

Humanitarian reasons for travel abroad may include (but are not limited to):

  • Obtaining medical treatment, 
  • Attending funeral services for a family member, or 
  • Visiting an ailing relative.

Some applicants may also be allowed to travel abroad for educational or employment purposes.

See the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-131 instructions for details.

1.2. Exceptions: aliens who can return without parole

People who hold one of the following visas may travel outside the U.S. without advance parole:

  • H-1 temporary worker, or H-4 spouse or child of an H-1;
  • K-3 spouse or K-4 child of a U.S. citizen; 
  • L-1 intracompany transferee, or L-2 spouse or child of an L-1; or
  • V-1 spouse or V-2/V-3 child of a lawful permanent resident. 

Upon return to the United States, people in these categories must present a current valid H, L, K, or V nonimmigrant visa, as applicable, and must continue to be otherwise admissible to the U.S.

But their applications for adjustment of status generally will not be deemed abandoned, even if they do not apply for an Advance Parole Document before traveling abroad while an adjustment application is pending.

It is a good idea to be prepared to present evidence of having filed an adjustment of status application (such as with a Form I-797 Notice of Action).

1.3. Special warning for people with temporary protected status

Upon return to the U.S. an alien will only retain temporary protected status if he or she continues to meet the requirements.

Note that travel with an advance parole document does NOT break the continuous physical presence requirement for maintaining TPS, as long as the alien leaves and reenters the United States during the validity period of the Advance Parole Document.

1.4. Can I get advance parole if I am or have been in the U.S. unlawfully?

Yes, but an alien who leaves the United States after being present unlawfully may nevertheless be barred from re-entry (even if the alien has obtained an advance parole document).

Accruing more than 180 days of unlawful presence, but less than 1 year, will trigger a three-year bar on re-entry.

Accruing more than one year of unlawful presence will result in a 10-year ban on re-entry.

It is highly recommended that aliens with any history of unlawful presence consult an experienced California immigration attorney before leaving the country.

1.5. Can I get advance parole if I am outside the U.S.?

In rare cases, individuals who are outside the United States may be able to get advance parole for:

  • Urgent humanitarian reasons (such as a sick relative or funeral), or
  • Significant public benefit (such as testifying in a criminal case).

Such parole cannot be used to circumvent normal visa-issuance procedures and is not a means to bypass delays in visa issuance.

An individual outside the United States who is seeking an Advance Parole Document must submit to biometrics (such as fingerprinting) if he or she is between ages 14 through 79, inclusive. Depending on the individual's location, USCIS or the Department of State will advise the location for the biometrics services appointment.

For more information, please see the USCIS website or our article on humanitarian parole to the United States (linked to in the introduction to this article).

2. What does advance parole do?

Advance parole lets non-citizens who do not have a visa return to the U.S. after travel abroad without obtaining a visa.

It also lets immigrants who have applied for certain benefits – such as adjustment of status -- preserve their application while they are out of the country.

2.1. Does it guarantee reentry?

Advance Parole does NOT guarantee that an alien will be allowed to re-enter the United States.

Aliens with an advance parole document are still subject to the standard immigration inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a port of entry to determine admissibility into the U.S.

An alien who is found to be inadmissible may be denied entry or subject to expedited removal proceedings or to removal proceedings in immigration court.1

female judge behind bench talking to male lawyer

3. How long does it take to get advance parole?

It usually takes 90 days or so to get an Advance Parole document.

3.1. Expedited application

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may expedite an application on request if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • Severe financial loss to company or person;
  • Emergency situation;
  • Humanitarian reasons;
  • Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
  • Request by the Department of Defense or other U.S. government official for a national interest situation;
  • USCIS error; or
  • Compelling interest of USCIS.

An expedited request takes approximately 30 days to process.

3.2. Emergency application

In a genuine emergency, an alien may visit a local USCIS field office to request an emergency advance parole document. If granted, an emergency advance parole document can usually be processed on the same day as the visit to USCIS.

Items that should be brought to the USCIS field office for an emergency advance parole requests include:

  • A completed and signed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document;
  • The correct I-131 filing fee;
  • Evidence to support the emergency request (e.g. medical documentation, death certificate); and
  • Two passport-style photos.

USCIS considers emergency travel requests on a case-by-case basis. The officer has the discretion to:

  • Grant the emergency parole,
  • Deny the request, or
  • Request that a currently pending Advance Parole application be expedited (rather than issuing an emergency Advance Parole document).

For more information, please visit the USCIS Emergency Travel page.

worried young man and young woman in hospital room of sick older male family member

4. How long can I stay outside the U.S.?

An advance parole card is generally valid for 1 year from the date of issue.

But note that the Department of Homeland Security retains the right to revoke or terminate an Advance Parole Document at any time, including while an alien is outside the United States.

In such a case, the alien would be unable to return to the United States without a valid visa or other documents that permits the individual to travel to the United States and seek admission.

For further information, contact a California immigration lawyer or a local USCIS office.

5. How much does Advance Parole cost?

The filing fee for an Advance Parole Document is $575. No biometrics services fee is required.

The filing fee may be waived based upon a demonstrated inability to pay. Applicants for a fee waiver should file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver when filing their Form I-131.3

5.1. Exception for people who paid for adjustment of status after July 2007

Applicants who filed a Form I-485 application for adjustment of status on or after July 30, 2007, do NOT need to pay a filing fee for advance parole IF:

  • They paid the filing fee for the I-485, AND
  • Their I-485 application is still pending.

6. How to apply for Advance Parole

To apply for advance parole, aliens should file a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

Along with the form applicants will need to submit:

  • A copy of a photo identity document (with photo, name and date of birth) – for instance an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) or government-issued ID such as a passport or driver's license;
  • The $575 filing fee or a fee waiver request;
  • Two identical passport-style color photographs taken within 30 days of the filing of the application;
  • A copy of any document issued by USCIS showing the applicant's present status, if any, in the United States; 
  • An explanation or other evidence showing the circumstances that warrant issuance of an Advance Parole Document;
  • If the applicant has a pending adjustment of status application, a copy of a USCIS receipt as evidence of having filed the application;
  • If the applicant is traveling to Canada to apply for an immigrant visa, a copy of the U.S. consular appointment letter;
  • If USCIS has deferred action in the applicant's case under DACA, a copy of the Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that the decision on your Form I-821D was to defer action in your case.(If ICE deferred action in the case under DACA, the applicant should submit a copy of the approval order, notice or letter issued by ICE, instead); 
  • The dates of travel and the expected amount of time the applicant will remain outside the United States; and
  • Evidence of the reason for travel outside of the United States is needed, such as:
    • A letter from a school employee acting in an official capacity describing the purpose of educational travel and explaining why it is required or beneficial; 
    • A document showing enrollment in an educational program requiring travel;
    • A letter from an employer or a conference host describing the need for the travel;
    • A letter from a physician explaining the nature of the applicant's medical condition, the specific medical treatment to be sought outside of the United States, and a brief explanation why travel outside the U.S. is medically necessary; or 
    • Documentation of a family member's serious illness or death.

Need help getting into the U.S.? Call us…

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Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or someone you know is worried about being able to leave and re-enter the United States, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation.

Our caring California immigration lawyers may be able to help you obtain parole, a visa, a waiver of inadmissibility or post-conviction relief for an inadmissible offense or deportable crime.

Call us at (855) LAWFIRM or fill out the form on this page to schedule your free consultation.

One of our experienced California criminal or immigration lawyers will get back to you promptly to discuss your situation.

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