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Do you need to leave the US and hope to come back without reapplying for a visa? Many times my clients who are waiting for their green card want to travel out of the country. They can do that with advance parole. However, USCIS changed their policy regarding this recently and I want to be sure everyone is aware of what it is so they don’t get stuck not being able to come back into the US.
I’m Raluca Hanea. I provide immigration, estate planning, and family law services for my clients.
My marketing and office manager, Nina Cleere, is here with me.
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Nina: So USCIS issues different types of travel documents, right?
Raluca: That’s right.
Nina: Can you define what Advance parole is?
Raluca: Sure. Advance parole means that you are given documents that say you can leave the country and come back in without having to get another visa.
Nina: Is there anything that would keep you from being re-admitted?
Raluca: Yes. Keep in mind that even IF you have an Advance parole document re-entry is not guaranteed and not a right. You may still be denied.
If you are not a US Citizen, even if you have a green card, every time you come back into the US you are subject to immigration review and the border patrol or customs agent determines if you should be allowed back into the US.
If you had applied for asylum and then went back to the country you left, you will be denied re-entry. If you had been found guilty of a crime, anywhere, you may be denied re-entry depending on the crime.
Nina: When have you seen it used most?
Raluca: Most often when a person has applied for an I-485 that is pending or for asylum cases.
Nina: Advance parole is not a fast or emergency approval though, right?
Raluca: No, Advance parole approval itself can take several months. I checked last week for one of my clients and the National Benefits Center is saying they are processing applications from August 2018 with a 4-6 month processing time.
Nina: And if do obtain Advance Parole approval, you still need a valid passport, right?
Raluca: That’s right.
Nina: What about if you apply for Advance Parole and make travel plans, and you don’t get your approval before you leave. Can you still go?
Raluca: I would advise against it.
Nina: Why is that?
Raluca: Because if your application is pending, you WILL be considered to have abandoned it if you leave the country. This means you would have to start the entire process over again. And if you are out of status and try to enter the US, you will not be allowed in. Plus, depending on who reviews your file, if they consider you were in the US without a legal status, you may be banned from the US for 3-10 years.
Nina: Can you break that down for us? First, explain what you mean by “you WILL be considered to have abandoned it.”
Raluca: Sure., The reason we are bringing this up is that USCIS without notice changed their policy recently. Whereas before you *might* have been considered to have abandoned your application, now their policy says “you will be” and this is a huge change.
I know it can be confusing. People think “well I applied to become a green card holder so I’m safe.”
It might help if we use an example. There is a person who entered the US on a fiancee visa. As I recommend immediately after marrying they applied for a green card due to being the spouse of a US citizen. They are waiting for this application to be processed (which can take over two years depending on the office that is processing it) but they want to go on vacation to another country.
Now, they must apply for Advance Parole in order to leave the country and be allowed back in. (but remember being let back in is not guaranteed) If they do not apply, they will be considered to have abandoned their application for a Green Card and USCIS will deny them a green card. This means that since it is denied, since they left the country, they are not legally able to re-enter the US.
Nina: Can they re-apply?
Raluca: It would depend on their individual circumstances. If they were found to have been “out of status” and lived in the US during that time, they may not be able to re-apply for 3-10 years depending on how long they were living here without a legal status.
Nina: And we said it takes 4-6 months to get a decision on if you were granted Advance Parole. Can you get it sooner?
Raluca: Under very limited circumstances you can apply for it. Before, however, you did that by submitting supporting documentation at a USCIS center or by calling them and as of today, 2/4/2019, they are no longer accepting walk-ins or phone calls so I’m not sure how it is going to work. When we find out, we will be sure to let you know.
Nina: This also applies to those who are here on H and L visas, who before did not have to get Advance Parole, right?
Raluca: That’s right. H and L workers used to be able to travel without restriction but with this new policy that has changed they must also apply for Advance Parole and if they do not they may be denied entry.
This can be very confusing but because it can change your legal status or ability to apply for one, I would recommend ensuring you have all the correct documentation needed by talking to an attorney before traveling.
Thanks for watching. Remember, we are always here to help and welcome your questions.