USCIS Denying Advance Parole Applications Based on Overseas Travel

In a recent trend, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has begun to deny advance parole (AP) applications (form I-131) for applicants who have traveled abroad before their applications are approved. This is in stark contrast to the previous, longstanding policy, which allowed an AP applicant to travel abroad while the case was pending, as long as the individual had other valid means of being readmitted to the United States.

Advance Parole to Avoid Abandonment of Green Card Application

Generally, if an applicant for adjustment of status (form I-485) departs the United States while the application is still pending, the I-485 is considered abandoned and is denied. However, if an adjustment applicant is in lawful L-1, L-2, H1B, H-4, K-3, K-4, or V status, and remains eligible for that status upon returning to the U.S., the adjustment application is not considered to be abandoned. Additionally, if an adjustment applicant travels abroad during the pendency of the I-485 application, it is not typically denied if the foreign national has a valid, unexpired AP document that was approved prior to departing the United States.

Form I-131 Denials

Recently, the USCIS has begun denying I-131 applications solely on the ground that the applicant traveled while the application was pending. The denials do not distinguish between applicants who need the pending AP to travel and those who have either a qualifying visa or an already valid advance parole.

The USCIS is justifying these denials based on an instruction in the latest version of form I-131(issued on December 23, 2016), which indicates that the application will be denied if the applicant travels before it is adjudicated. Until these denials began a few weeks ago, travel during pendency of an advance parole application had not typically resulted in denial.

Conclusion

The new policy may stem from President Trump’s mandate to reduce parole applications and approvals, with the goal of reversing earlier trends to approve most parole applications. The Murthy Law Firm, along with other stakeholders, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), have been in touch with the USCIS to push for a reversal of this change in policy. MurthyDotCom will continue to closely track this matter and post updates, if there are any new developments. This important issue affects many who have I-485 adjustment-of-status applications and have been traveling abroad for years with valid and unexpired advance parole documents.

 

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.
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