When to apply for advance parole documentation

Immigrants in the U.S. who have begun the process of applying for a green card or certain visas are advised not to leave the country while their application is in progress. Those individuals who have not completed the necessary paperwork may be denied re-entry into the country, so applying for the proper documentation is very important.

Emergency situations do arise that require an immigrant to travel while waiting for their green card or visa application to be accepted. In these cases an advance parole document is what they would need to complete in order to make short international trips. The advance parole document, also known as the travel document, is not a requirement for departure from the U.S. However, border authorities, upon an immigrant’s return, might assume the green card or resident application that was submitted before the immigrant’s departure was abandoned, and authorities may not allow that individual to return to the U.S.

It is advised that immigrants applying for a green card fill out the advance parole document at the same time. Because green card applications take a long time to be processed (anywhere from nine months to a year), having the travel document completed ensures the safety of that green card application. There are many reasons an applicant would request to leave the U.S. while they wait to be granted permanent resident status, from weddings to funerals, business trips and family emergencies. The U.S. government does not ship travel documents overseas, so it’s a good idea for immigrants to complete the advance parole document before taking an international trip.

The document that is needed is called Form 1-131, commonly known as the Application for Travel Document, and is filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).