When Is Advance Parole an Option?

Last Updated

July 28, 2021

Recent court decisions and policy changes impacting recipients of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, may have created confusion about who can seek advance parole and in what circumstances. This article summarizes who is eligible for advance parole, as well as the possible risks and benefits of traveling with it.

Advance parole is a travel document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, on Form I-512L that allows certain noncitizens inside the United States to depart and seek to reenter the country after temporary travel abroad. The categories of noncitizens who qualify for advance parole from USCIS include the following:

  • Applicants for adjustment of status must obtain advance parole before departing the United States to avoid abandoning their pending I-485 application (with narrow exceptions for certain applicants who hold valid nonimmigrant visas). Non-emergency advance parole based on a pending adjustment application may be granted when travel is for bona fide business or personal reasons. Applicants are not required to document a specific reason for the travel and advance parole is routinely granted regardless of the basis of the pending adjustment application (family-based, employment-based, asylum/refugee status, U and T nonimmigrant status, etc.).
  • Applicants for asylum must also seek advance parole before departing the United States for temporary travel to avoid abandoning a pending I-589 application. Generally, it is not recommended to travel unless there is an urgent need to do so. While asylum applicants may be granted advance parole, they should be advised that returning to the country of claimed persecution or traveling with a passport from that country could undercut the basis of their asylum claim.
  • TPS recipients must have valid advance parole to depart and reenter the United States without breaking the continuous physical presence requirement for maintaining TPS. Advance parole is routinely granted to TPS recipients without documentation of the specific reason for the travel.
  • DACA recipients may seek advance parole, but only if they need to travel for humanitarian, educational, or employment purposes. Humanitarian purposes include travel to obtain medical treatment, attend funeral services for a family member, or visit an ailing relative. Educational purposes include semester-abroad programs and academic research. Employment purposes include overseas assignments, interviews, conferences, training, or meeting with clients overseas. More details are available in CLINIC’s FAQ on Advance Parole Travel for DACA Recipients.
  • Other noncitizens who may seek advance parole include recipients of humanitarian parole under INA § 212(d)(5) who can demonstrate their travel is for an urgent humanitarian reason or furthers a significant public benefit. Also, some U nonimmigrants reported their being issued advance parole for temporary travel aboard during the Obama administration, but these requests were no longer approved during the Trump administration.

Advance parole applications are filed with USCIS using Form I-131. The current filing fee is $575. Advance parole applications are not eligible for a fee waiver. However, a pending adjustment applicant who filed Form I-485 on or after July 30, 2007 and paid the I-485 fee may seek advance parole without paying an additional 1-131 fee. All applicants must indicate on the I-131 the purpose of their travel, the country or countries they intend to visit, the number of trips planned, and the circumstances that warrant issuance of advance parole.

Applicants must obtain the advance parole document before departing the United States. If the applicant leaves the country before advance parole is issued, the I-131 application will be considered abandoned. This is in contrast to an I-131 applicant for a re-entry permit or refugee travel document who can depart the country after attending the biometrics appointment and retrieve the document at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas (assuming this is requested on the I-131).

Expedited processing of a pending advance parole application is available in certain situations, including severe financial loss to a company or person, urgent humanitarian reasons, and when requested by a nonprofit organization to further the cultural and social interests of the United States. In the event of an extremely urgent travel need, clients may call the USCIS Contact Center to request an in-person appointment to apply for an emergency advance parole document at a USCIS field office. Applicants must bring a completed I-131, filing fee, evidence to support the emergency travel request, and two passport photos.

What are the risks involved in advance parole travel? A grant of advance parole from USCIS does not guarantee reentry to the United States. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, inspects advance parole holders at the port-of-entry and has the discretion to find someone inadmissible under INA § 212(a) or otherwise deny entry. Note that in Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, the Board of Immigration Appeals held that travel for an adjustment applicant on advance parole does not constitute a “departure” for purposes of triggering the ten-year unlawful presence bar under INA § 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II). USCIS has also applied this analysis to individuals with TPS and DACA. Keep in mind that someone with an unexecuted removal order who departs on advance parole may be found to have executed the order and could face future immigration consequences, such as the inability to reenter the United States for ten years unless an I-212 waiver is granted. However, in the context of a TPS holder with an unexecuted order, USCIS has stated that travel with advance parole does not execute the order.

What about the potential benefits of advance parole travel? In addition to meeting the noncitizen’s underlying reasons for travel, entry with advance parole may make some individuals eligible for adjustment of status under INA § 245(a). For example, someone who entered the United States without inspection but subsequently left and returned under advance parole may now be considered to have been “inspected and admitted or paroled.” If that parolee has an immigrant visa immediately available, is not inadmissible, and is not subject to any of the 245(c) bars to adjustment, he or she may qualify to adjust status under section 245(a). This typically benefits "immediate relatives" (the spouses or children of U.S. citizens or the parents of adult U.S. citizens). Note that a TPS beneficiary who returns with advance parole after Aug. 20, 2020 is not considered “admitted or paroled” for purposes of 245(a) adjustment. More information is in CLINIC’s Practice Advisory on Adjustment Options for TPS Beneficiaries