What is Advance Parole?
If you submitted your I-485 and are awaiting your green card, you can travel abroad in the meantime by obtaining an “Advance Parole Document”, also called a travel document. An Advance Parole Document allows you to re-enter the United States until you receive your green card.
Advance Parole Documents are obtained by filing Form I-131. For green card applicants, Form I-131 is filed in conjunction with Form I-485 – Adjustment of Status. Just as with Form I-765 for Employment Authorization, it is optional. However, there’s no reason not to file it: It costs nothing extra, and GreenCardHero automatically generates it for you.
The actual Advance Parole Document (APD) is a wallet-sized plastic card. Generally, people file Form I-131 along with Form I-765 to gain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). In this case, your EAD and travel document will be combined into a single card. The ‘combo’ card will say “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole” (I-512 is another name for the APD).
Form I-131 can also be used to apply for a Reentry Permit. Reentry Permits are for current Permanent Residents who plan to travel abroad for more than 6 months in a single year. This article concentrates on Advanced Parole, but if you need to know more about Reentry Permits, read our After You Get Your Green Card Guide.
How long does it take to receive my Advance Parole Document?
Currently, I-131 applicants are waiting 3 to 7 months. However, processing times vary by the service center processing your application. Please see the USCIS processing times, though the times listed are not very reliable.
What if my Advance Parole Document expires?
I-131 Travel Documents are normally issued for one year. However, as green card applications are taking longer and longer these days, it is very possible for your APD to expires before you get a green card. If you need to travel abroad after one year, simply file another I-131 within 120 days of the expiration date. Unlike EAD renewals, APD renewals are not automatically approved and you will have to wait to receive a new card in the mail.
Can I travel before I get my Advance Parole Document?
No. Traveling after you file I-485 but before you receive your AP document will result in your entire application being rejected. The I-131 instructions clearly state:
Generally, if you are in the United States and have applied for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident, your application will be deemed abandoned if you leave the United States without first obtaining an Advance Parole Document.
This means that, even if you could re-enter the United States using your previous visa (assuming it’s still valid), your green card application would be considered abandoned.