Foreign nationals who live in the U.S. but do not have a green card may need to get a travel authorization document, known as advance parole, if they have a good-faith reason to travel abroad. Otherwise, they would need to get a new visa from a U.S. consulate abroad before returning to the U.S. Most commonly, people who have a pending adjustment of status application seek advance parole to allow them to return to the U.S. after a trip to a foreign country. A foreign national also may seek this status if they have a pending asylum application, although they should avoid traveling to the country from which they are seeking asylum. Finally, foreign nationals who have temporary protected status may pursue advance parole.
Advance parole is not the same as the reentry permit for which green card holders can apply when leaving the U.S. It remains valid for a maximum length of one year after it is issued, while a reentry permit remains valid for two years. You do not need to get advance parole if you are seeking adjustment of status while you have an H-1 visa or an L-1 visa, or while you are an H-4 or L-2 dependent.
Restrictions on Eligibility for Advance Parole
Certain groups of foreign nationals will not be able to obtain advance parole. These include people who do not have a valid immigration status and people who have a currently valid non-immigrant status. If a foreign national already has been placed in removal proceedings, they cannot receive advance parole. A few other exceptions apply to narrow groups, such as foreign nationals who are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement based on holding a J visa.
Applying for Advance Parole
A foreign national must submit Form I-131 to apply for advance parole. They must pay the application fee and provide a copy of their Form I-94. This is the Arrival-Departure Document that the foreign national received when they entered the U.S. They also must provide documents that indicate their current immigration status. If they are seeking a green card, they must submit a copy of their receipt for the green card application or other documents that show that their application for adjustment of status is pending with USCIS. Finally, they must provide two color photos taken within 30 days of filing the application and a copy of their current passport.
Overseas Travel While Seeking Advance Parole
Sometimes a foreign national will apply for advance parole before a current advance parole document expires. They can travel outside the U.S. based on their current advance parole without risking a denial of their pending application. However, they must return to the U.S. before the current advance parole expires. USCIS will deny a pending application if the current document expires while the foreign national is abroad, or if the foreign national leaves the U.S. without valid advance parole.
In rare cases, foreign nationals who are outside the U.S. can seek parole to enter the U.S. if they are not eligible for any type of visa. This is known as humanitarian parole, which is different from advance parole and more challenging to obtain. You can read more here about humanitarian parole.