Frequently Asked Questions about Advance Parole


Q: What is the USCIS?

A: USCIS stands for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It is the agency of the U.S. government principally responsible for matters dealing with aliens in the United States. This includes jurisdiction over applications for Advance Parole. Prior to March of 2003, the USCIS was called the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). For a brief period of time, it was known as the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). It is also sometimes just referred to as the CIS. For purposes of this web site, we use the current accepted name of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.

Q: What is Advance Parole?

A: Advance Parole is a document for certain aliens to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad without an immigrant visa or non-immigrant visa. Such aliens must be approved for Advance Parole before leaving the United States. As a general rule, if an alien has not obtained Advance Parole prior to traveling abroad, he/she will not be permitted to re-enter the United States upon their return unless he/she has a valid visa.

Q: Who needs an Advance Parole?

A: Aliens in the United States who wish to travel abroad but have:

  • An application for adjustment of status pending;
  • Been admitted as a refugee or have been granted asylum;
  • Been granted benefits under the Family Unity Program;
  • Been granted Temporary Protected Status; or
  • An asylum application pending.

Q: What are the benefits of Advance Parole?

A: There are two benefits of advance parole: First, it enables an alien to come back to the U.S. after traveling abroad without the necessity of obtaining a visa to enter the U.S.  Second, it preserves the adjustment of status application pending with the USCIS.  [Please note that aliens holding valid H-1 (temporary worker in a specialty occupation) or L-1 (intra-company transferee) visas and their dependents who have filed an adjustment of status application do not have to file for Advance Parole, as long as they maintain their H-1 or L-1 status. However, in this situation, they still need a valid H-1 or L-1 visa to come back to the U.S.]

Q: I am an H-1B holder, and I have already filed an I-485. Do I need to apply for Advance Parole?

A: No, you need not apply. As an H-1B holder, as long as you maintain valid H-1B status before you leave the US, you may try to apply for an H-1B visa to re-enter the U.S. after your travels abroad. When you come back to work for your H-1B sponsoring employer, your I-485 is preserved. If you come back to the US with an Advanced Parole, you are considered to be in parolee status; however, you do not need an EAD to work for your H-1 sponsoring employer. Furthermore you can still apply for an extension of H-1B status or transfer H-1B status to bring you back into H-1B status from parolee status.

Q: I am an H-1B holder, and my I-485 is pending. I wish to travel abroad, but I am not sure whether I can get an H-1B visa to re-enter the U.S. Do I need to apply for an Advance Parole?

A: To safeguard that you can go back to the U.S., we recommend that you apply for Advance Parole and get it before you travel abroad. You should bring your Advance Parole with you, but always try to apply for your H-1B visa first. If your H-1B visa application is denied, your Advance Parole will serve as a back-up.

Q: I was an H-1B holder, and used my Advance Parole to re-enter the U.S. Do I lose my H-1B status and become in I-485 pending status?

A: If you resume your employment with the same employer for whom you had previously been authorized to work as an H-1 non-immigrant, and do not use your EAD, you are in parolee status. Furthermore you can still apply for an extension of H-1B status or transfer H-1B status to bring you back into H-1B status from parolee status. However, if after being paroled (by using an Advanced Parole document), you work for your current employer with your EAD or change employers with your EAD, you will no longer have a valid H-1B non-immigrant status, even though you can still lawfully stay in the U.S. during the I-485 pending period.

Q: I was an L-1 holder, and used my Advance Parole to come back the U.S. Am I still in L-1 status?

A: No. If you resume your employment with the same employer for whom you had previously been authorized to work as an L-1 non-immigrant, and do not use your EAD, you will be in parolee status. You can still apply for an extension of L-1 status and this will bring you back to valid L-1 status. However, if after being paroled in, you change employers or work for your current employer with your EAD, you will no longer be able to bring you back to a L-1 status, even though you can still lawfully stay in the U.S. during the I-485 pending period.

Q: Who is not eligible for Advance Parole?

A: Aliens in the United States are not eligible for Advance Parole if they are:

  • In the United States without a valid immigration status;
  • An exchange alien subject to the foreign residence requirement;
  • In possession of a previously issued re-entry permit or refugee travel document which is still valid, unless it was returned to USCIS or it is demonstrated that it was lost;
  • The beneficiary of a private bill; or
  • Under removal proceedings.

Q: How does one obtain Advance Parole?

A: Please consult with an immigration attorney. If you would like to get more information about Advance Parole, please feel free to contact us. To e-mail us, please click here.

Q: Does Advance Parole guarantee admission into the United States?

A: No, similar to a visa to the U.S., Advance Parole, does not guarantee admission into the United States. Aliens who have obtained Advance Parole are still subject to the inspection process at the port of entry.

Q: Can travel abroad still have severe consequences for certain aliens, even if they have obtained Advance Parole?

A: Yes, due to changes to U.S. immigration law, travel outside of the United States may have severe consequences for certain aliens who are in the process of adjusting their status or changing their non-immigrant status. Such aliens may be found inadmissible to the United States upon return and/or their applications for adjustment or change of status may be denied.

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, aliens who depart the United States after accruing certain periods of unlawful presence in the United States can be barred from admission according to the 3/10 year ban, even if they have obtained Advance Parole. Under the 3/10 year ban, aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States for 180 days but less than one year become inadmissible for three years; those who are unlawfully present for more than one year become inadmissible for 10 years.

Aliens who have concerns about their admissibility should contact an immigration attorney before making foreign travel plans.

Q: How long does it take to get an Advance Parole approved?

A: It usually takes about two to three months to process an Advance Parole application.

Q: What is the valid duration of an Advance Parole?

A: The advance parole document is valid for up to one year and during that period, an alien may make multiple entries into the United States. Also, an advance parole document may be renewed, so long as the renewal application is filed at least 120 days before the previously issued advance parole expires.

Q: Where is an Advance Parole application to be submitted?

A: For an employment-based adjustment of status, the Advance Parole application is filed with either the Phoenix (USCIS Phoenix Lockbox P.O. Box 21281, Phoenix, Arizona 85036), Dallas (USCIS Dallas Lockbox P.O. Box 660866, Dallas, Texas 75266) or Chicago (USCIS Chicago Lockbox P.O. Box 805887, Chicago Illinois 60680) Lockbox, depending on the I-797 receipt number for an applicant’s filed I-485 . However, in an emergency an application for an Advanced Parole can be filed in any local USCIS office.

Q: What is the difference between an Advanced Parole and a Re-entry Permit?

A: An Advanced Parole Approval is issued to an alien who does not have permanent resident status. A Re-entry Permit is issued to a permanent resident of the U.S. The two documents are dissimilar in physical appearance: an Advanced Parole Approval is a single piece of paper bearing the alien's photo, whereas a Re-entry Permit looks like a passport.

An Advanced Parole Approval functions like a visa to the U.S., while a Re-entry Permit functions like a passport. In another words, an alien with an Advanced Parole Approval still needs a foreign passport to enter into the U.S., while a permanent resident with a Re-entry Permit does not need a foreign passport to enter the U.S.  Another difference is the duration: Advanced Parole is valid for one year, whereas a Re-entry Permit is valid for two years. For more information about Re-entry Permits, click here.

Q: Is there a maximum number of days that an Alien can stay outside the U.S. while on AP?

A: The only limit to the amount of time is the one-year expiration date on the AP.  The year period begins from the date the AP is issued.  You cannot use the AP after it expires.

Q: Who is handling my case if I retain Z&A?

A: Our attorneys handle our clients' cases individually by preparing petition letters, contacting clients, and following up on pending cases. This is why we have more attorneys than clerks. Our law clerks' main objective is to help attorneys prepare clients' packages, and each client's package will be reviewed by one of our most experienced attorneys for final checking before it is sent out to the USCIS.

(Updated 10/11/2012 by AD)

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