Application for Travel Document, or Form I-131, is a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form which allows applicants to apply for a Reentry Permit, Refugee Travel Document or Advance Parole.

This article will discuss how adjustment of status (Form I-485) applicants who are currently in the U.S. can apply for a travel document, or Advance Parole.

Form I-131 – Application for a Travel Document

What is Advance Parole?

An Advance Parole document (Form I-512L) is a form of temporary travel authorization that allows someone living in the U.S. to travel abroad while awaiting their green card.

Nonimmigrants in the United States such as adjustment of status applicants must obtain Advance Parole to obtain permission to reenter the United States after traveling abroad without jeopardizing their status.

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is used by a person in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

Adjustment of status applicants must be granted Advance Parole before leaving the United States.

If they have not obtained Advance Parole prior to traveling abroad, they cannot be permitted to re-enter the United States upon their return from abroad.

An Advance Parole serves the following functions:

  • It enables an alien to come back to the U.S. after traveling abroad without having to obtain a visa to enter the U.S.
  • It preserves the pending Adjustment of Status application that the alien has filed

Attention: If you are an adjustment of status applicant and travel outside the United States without an Advance Parole Document while Form I-485 is pending, your case will be presumed abandoned and denied.

If you apply for an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) and then enter the U.S. on a visa instead of an Advance Parole document, your pending I-485 petition can be considered to have been abandoned (except in the situations that you come back with valid H-1 and L-1 visas).

For example, if you are an applicant for Adjustment of Status, then leave the U.S. and re-enter on a non-immigrant visa such as an F-1 visa, you will be considered to have abandoned your adjustment of status application. 

 

 

What is a Reentry Permit?

If you are a lawful permanent resident and you expect to spend significant time outside the United States but intend to return to the U.S, you will need a Reentry Permit.

Form I-131 can be used by green card holders to apply for a reentry permit.

Normally, if you are a permanent resident, you can use a green card to reenter the United States after traveling abroad.

However, your green card will be assumed to be abandoned if the absence is one year or more.

A Reentry Permit can help prevent this problem.

Lawful permanent residents or conditional permanent residents who plan to travel outside the United States for more than one year, but less than two years, can apply for a Reentry Permit. 

Reentry Permit can serve as a passport for a U.S. permanent resident if he/she has no passport and cannot obtain it from the country of his/her nationality.

If you are a permanent resident and you are outside the country for more than a year without a Reentry Permit, you will most likely be denied reentry into the U.S. on the ground that you have abandoned your permanent resident status.

What is a Refugee Travel Document?

If you have a refugee or asylum status and you wish to travel outside the United States, and you wish to return later to the U.S, you can apply for a Refugee Travel Document.

You can use your Refugee Travel Document to travel in place of a passport.

If you do not obtain a Refugee Travel Document before you leave the U.S., you can be unable to re-enter the United States, or you can be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

To apply for a Refugee Travel Document, file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

You should file a Form I-131 before you leave the United States and expect processing times of approximately 3 to 5 months. However, it can take longer.

A Refugee Travel Document is valid for up to one year. During this time, you can use the document multiple times.

Form I-131 – The difference between an Advance Parole and a Reentry Permit

Form I-131 Application for Travel Document

Download the latest version of Form I-131 on USCIS website

Advance Parole is issued to you if you do not have permanent resident status. 

A Reentry Permit is issued to you if you are a permanent resident of the U.S.

The two documents are dissimilar in physical appearance: Advance Parole is a single piece of paper bearing your photo, whereas a Re-entry Permit looks like a passport.

An Advance Parole functions much like a visa to the United States while a Reentry Permit functions like a passport.

If you have an Advance Parole document, you still need a foreign passport to enter into the United States.

If you are a permanent resident with a Reentry Permit you do not need a foreign passport to enter the United States.

Another difference is the duration: Advance Parole is valid for one year, whereas a Reentry Permit is valid for two years.

Form I-131 – Who Can File It?

If you are in the United States, you can apply for Advance Parole if you have:

  • An application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) pending.
  • Been granted benefits under the Family Unity Program.
  • A pending application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Form I-821 or been granted Temporary Protected Status.
  • Have been granted T or U nonimmigrant status

If you have an application pending with USCIS, and you leave the United States on advance parole, you can miss important notices from USCIS regarding your application, including requests for additional evidence.

If you do not respond timely to these notices, USCIS can deem your application abandoned and you will not receive the benefit you seek.

It is very important that you make appropriate arrangements to ensure you do not miss any such important notices from USCIS.

What are the benefits of Advance Parole?

Applying for Advance Parole comes with the following benefits:

  • It will enable you to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad without the necessity of obtaining a visa.
  • It preserves whatever Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications that you have pending with the USCIS.

Form I-131 Checklist

Form I-131 - How to Apply for a Travel Document [2020] 1

If you are applying for Advance Parole, you will need to submit the following:

  • An accurately completed Application for Travel Document, Form I-131
  • A receipt notice for Form I-485
  • Two passport photos
  • Your biographical information
  • Phone number and current address
  • Form I-131 fees

Form I-131 Fees

The filing fee for an Advance Parole Document for an individual who is currently in the United States is $575.

The biometrics services fee is not required.

The filing fee can be waived based upon a demonstrated inability to pay. In this case, applicants should file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver when filing Form I-131.

However, there is no additional fee if you submit your travel document application (Form I-131) at the same time as your initial application for a green card, Form I-485, filed anytime after July 30, 2007.

If you have already submitted your green card application, you can still get a travel document that allows you to leave the United States without paying an additional fee.

In this case, when you file Form I-131 with USCIS, you must include a copy of the receipt notice showing that USCIS previously received Form I-485 application including the full application fee.

Form I-131 Processing Time

USCIS takes approximately 3-5 months to process your Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

However, if you are experiencing an extremely urgent situation, you can visit your local USCIS office to request an Advance Parole Document on an emergency basis. 

You can’t leave the country until you have your approved travel document in hand, so you should expect to spend the 3-5 months after submitting your green card application in the United States.

Form I-131 Processing Time

Travel document typeApplication centerProcessing time
Re-entry permitNebraska Service Center4 Months to 6 Months
Texas Service Center3 Weeks to 5 Months
Refugee Travel DocumentNebraska Service Center4 Months to 6 Months
Texas Service Center3 Weeks to 5 Months
Advance ParoleCalifornia Service Center3 Months to 5 Months
National Benefits Center6 Months to 8 Months
Nebraska Service Center5 Months to 7 Months
Texas Service Center3 Months to 5 Months
Vermont Service Center5 Months to 7 Months
Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) dependent applying for advance paroleNebraska Service Center5 Months to 7 Months
Texas Service Center3 Months to 5 Months
Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) principal applying for advance paroleNebraska Service Center5 Months to 7 Months
Texas Service Center3 Months to 5 Months

How long will my Advance Parole document be valid?

An Advance Parole Document is valid for one year after it was issued.

How can I renew my Advance Parole document?

If you are yet to receive your green card and you plan to travel after that year has elapsed, it is advisable to renew your travel document.

You can file a renewal application as early as 100 days before your current Advance Parole document expires. It is important to submit the renewal as early as possible.

The renewal Advance Parole document will usually be processed within the same timeframe as that for the initial application, which is 5 months or longer. It’s important to plan early to avoid gaps in your ability to travel.

To renew your Advance Parole document, submit Form I-131 with a copy of your current Advance Parole document, a copy of the receipt notice from your green card application, and two passport-sized photos.

Form I-131 – Expedited Processing

It takes at least 90 days or more for USCIS to process your Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

You may, however, be able to get expedited processing of a travel document in certain situations. Such situations include:

  • Severe financial loss to company or person
  • Emergency situations
  • Humanitarian reasons
  • A nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
  • Department of Defense or National Interest Situation
  • Compelling interest of USCIS.

How can I request an Expedited Processing on Form I-131?

Since it takes up to 90 days to obtain a travel document, it is always advisable to apply for one as early as possible.

However, when there is an emergency that needs your attention abroad, there are steps you can take as an applicant to apply for one on an expedited basis. The tips are discussed below:

Write a cover letter requesting expedited processing. In the cover letter, outline the reasons for your expedited request. If the criteria outline above is met, USCIS can expedite your application for Advance Parole. 

To prove that one of the criteria has been met, you can submit evidence. Such evidence can include a medical report if the situation involves someone who is sick.

Gather the necessary evidence that proves your urgent need. It is important that you gather the required documentation that supports your reason for expedited processing.

As discussed above, you can provide proof of fatality, hospital records or a letter from the doctor. Keep in mind that the kind of evidence you will submit will determine if your request for the expedited processing of the travel document will be successful.

Prepare your application for the Travel Document. Complete Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. It is important that you prepare the application accurately.

Include the cover letter, filing fee, and all the supporting documentation according to the filing instructions. You can also use an overnight method to mail your expedited request. 

Contact USCISIt is advisable that you contact USCIS one week after filing to follow up on your request.

Can I file Form I-131 from abroad?

If you are outside the United States, you can apply for an Advance Parole Document if you:

  • Need to visit the United States temporarily for an urgent humanitarian reason or for significant public benefit
  • Unable to obtain the necessary visa and any required waiver of inadmissibility or consent to reapply for admission.

Under these conditions, an Advance Parole Document is granted on a case-by-case basis for a temporary period, according to any conditions that can be placed on parole.

Someone in the United States can also file the application for you.

Returning to the United States without a travel document

Before departing the United States, you need to understand the risks associated with traveling abroad while your Adjustment of Status application is pending.

You should obtain your travel document before leaving the United States. If you depart from the United States before the Advance Parole Document is issued, your application for an Advance Parole Document will be considered abandoned.

Returning to the United States with a travel document

Even if you have an Advance Parole Document and you leave the United States, it can impact your ability to return to the United States.

An Advance Parole Document does not entitle you to parole or guarantee that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will parole you into the United States upon your return. 

If you are using an Advance Parole Document to leave and return to a port of entry in the United States, you are considered an applicant for admission upon your return.

You will be subject to inspection at a port of entry and you cannot be admitted if you are found to be inadmissible under any applicable provision of immigration law.

If the Department of Homeland Security determines that you are inadmissible, you can be subject to expedited removal proceedings or to removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

In conclusion, it is important to apply for an Advance Parole Document if you are an adjustment of status applicant and you intend to travel abroad. 

Further Information on USCIS.

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