Advance Parole: Overseas Travel for Asylum Seekers

by Jason Dzubow on September 11, 2017

When government scientists invented Advance Parole (“AP”), they were not thinking about asylum seekers. Even today, if you look at the instructions to form I-131, the form used to apply for AP, you’ll find nary a word about asylum seekers (though asylees—people already granted asylum—can apply for a Refugee Travel Document using the same form). But fear not: People who have filed affirmatively for asylum and who are waiting for their interview can file for AP in order to travel abroad and return while their case is pending.

If your relative has a serious illness (or thinks he does), it may be enough for AP.

First, a brief word about asylum seekers who are not eligible to travel and return using AP. People who are in removal proceedings (i.e., in Immigration Court) cannot leave the U.S. and return, even if they have AP. If you are in removal proceedings, it means the government is trying to deport you, and if you leave, you are considered to have deported yourself. Thus, even if you apply for AP and receive the travel document, if you leave the United States, you will be deported, and thus barred from return. And yes, I am sure that there is a story about your third cousin’s best friend who was in Immigration Court, and who left and returned using AP. To that, I say: Talk to your cousin’s friend’s lawyer (and if you learn something, let me know!). My opinion is that if you are in removal proceedings and you leave the U.S., either you won’t get back here at all, or you will be detained upon arrival.

Another group that may be ineligible to travel using AP are J-1 visa holders subject to the pesky two-year home residency requirement. There are more people like this than you might imagine, and for such people, I recommend you talk to a lawyer about AP. Asylum basically “erases” the home residency requirement, but it is unclear (at least to me) whether this will work for purposes of AP while the asylum application is still pending.

Also, there was a group of people who were ineligible for AP, but who are now eligible. It is people who have six months or more of “unlawful presence.” If a person remains in the U.S. after her period of stay ends, she accrues unlawful presence (you stop accruing unlawful presence once you file for asylum). If she accrues six months of unlawful presence and leaves, she is barred from returning for three years. If she has one year or more of unlawful presence and then leaves, she cannot return for 10 years. Prior to 2012, if a person had six or more months of unlawful presence and left, she could not return to the U.S., even with AP. However, a decision by the Board of Immigration Appeals changed the rule, and so now, even if you have unlawful presence, you can leave the U.S. and return using Advance Parole. Thank you BIA!

There might be other people who are also ineligible to travel–people with criminal convictions or prior removal/deportation orders, for example. If you are not sure, you should certainly talk to a lawyer before applying for AP or traveling.

Next, let’s talk about what AP is and is not. If you get AP, you will receive a piece of paper with your photo on it. This paper works like a U.S. visa. It allows you to board the plane (or boat, if, like me, you hate flying), and pass through customs once you arrive at the port of entry. AP is not a passport or a Refugee Travel Document. You cannot use it to go to other countries or as a form of ID. If you travel with AP, you also need a passport. Keep in mind that traveling with a passport from a country where you fear persecution can raise questions at the asylum interview about why you would “avail” yourself of the protection of your country by using its passport. You should be prepared to respond to such questions, with evidence, during your interview.

So how do you apply for AP? Use form I-131. This one magic form can be used for all sorts of different applications: AP, Refugee Travel Document, DACA (at least for the next couple weeks), humanitarian parole. If you are applying for AP, complete only the portions of the form that apply to Advance Parole. You need to include evidence of a pending asylum case (receipts, biometrics notice), two passport-size photos, a copy of your passport or other government-issued photo ID (like an EAD card), and the filing fee (a whopping $575.00 as of this writing).

Also, you need to demonstrate a humanitarian need for the travel. It is not enough that you simply want to travel. A humanitarian reason might be that you are traveling to receive medical treatment or going to visit a seriously ill relative. It might also be because you are attending a funeral for a close relative. We have sought AP for people who needed to travel for work or education, though that was pre-Trump, and I would not feel particularly optimistic about such an application today.

To demonstrate a humanitarian need for AP, you need to provide a written explanation for the travel. You also need to provide evidence: A letter from the doctor, in the case of medical travel, or a death certificate if you are traveling for a funeral. If you are trying to travel for work or education, you need a letter from your job or school, plus an explanation of why the travel is “humanitarian.” In addition, if you are traveling to visit a sick relative, provide proof of the relationship, such as birth or marriage certificates connecting you to your relative.

On the form I-131, you need to state the dates of proposed travel. Don’t make the date too soon, or USCIS will not be able to process the paperwork before your travel date, and then they will send a request for evidence asking you to explain whether you still plan to travel since your departure date passed before AP was approved.

Also, it may be possible to expedite a request for AP, or even to get AP on an emergency basis, though you can bet that the bureaucrats at USCIS will not make the process easy. For more information about such requests, see the USCIS Ombudsman webpage.

Finally, and this is important, if you are an asylum seeker and you use AP to visit your home country, it will very likely cause your asylum case to be denied. Indeed, unless you can demonstrate “compelling reasons” for returning to your country, your asylum application will be deemed abandoned by the return trip. You can learn more about that here.

So there you have it. Most lawyers–including this one–discourage our clients from traveling with AP. There is always a risk when you leave the U.S. You might have trouble boarding a return flight. You could be detained upon arrival in the United States. Our capricious President might issue a new travel ban. But so far (knock on wood), we have not had any problems for our clients who traveled using AP. I do think it is better to stay in the country while your asylum application is pending, but given the long waits, some people must travel. If so, at least AP gives most people that option.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Rinsan November 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm

hi Jason,
I’m on asylum pending right now. I’ve applied for an asylum in June 2016 and still waiting for the interview. meanwhile, i met my wife and we got married to about month ago. my question is, what are the forms that we submit? and can we also submit advance parole to travel abroad(not my home country)? also, do i have to withdraw my asylum application? or i should wait until i get approve for a green card? any help and suggestions will be helpful ! thanks

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Jason Dzubow November 17, 2017 at 5:06 pm

There are many forms you need to submit – you can start by looking at the I-130, I-130A, and I-485, but there are others as well (all at http://www.uscis.gov). You may want to talk to a lawyer to help guide you. I think it would be a bad idea to travel to your home country, as that might indicate that your original asylum claim was fake, which could cause you to be barred from all immigration benefits, including a green card based on marriage to a US citizen. I prefer to file the marriage case and hope that it will be processed, and then withdraw the asylum once the person has a GC. This does not always work, and sometimes you need to contact the asylum office or close the asylum case (but this can result in a person being sent to immigration court, so you need to be careful). For all these point, you would do well to talk to a lawyer about the specifics of your case. Take care, Jason

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Charles November 11, 2017 at 1:51 am

Hello Jason. I have a pending asylum case with my wife which is the main applicant. I am still in F-1 student status and I am planning to travel outside the US (not going to my original country) with my Advance Parole. My problem is that my foreign passport is expired. Is it safe for me to renew my passport for the trip? What do you think.
Thank you

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Jason Dzubow November 12, 2017 at 11:23 am

It is preferable to now renew the passport, but if you do, you (or your wife) might need to explain why you did that, and why it should not impact her asylum case. We have had clients renew their passport and travel with AP, and they have not had problems, but nevertheless, things are tougher now, and so you should be prepared to explain why you got a passport and maybe have evidence about that (maybe evidence about the necessity of travel). Take care, Jason

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Pineapple November 7, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Hi Jason, thanks so much for your hard work to help people. I have a question. When I came back from a temporal travel from my origin of country (which is different from the principal asylee’s country), the CPB officer stamped with the following sentence on my RTD:
[admitted for an indefinite period as a returning asylee under section 208(b) of the immigration and naturalization act. If you depart the us you will need prior permission to reenter. Employment authorized].
My RTD is still valid till sometime next year and it says multi entry and no restriction. I am very confused. I have to go back to my country again for a short visit soon, but is this RTD enough to travel or do I need another permission? I believe that granted asylees just need RTD and I-94 to travel with. Please advice as soon as possible. Thank you so much, Jason.

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Jason Dzubow November 8, 2017 at 6:41 pm

I doubt this written statement is a problem – you do have prior permission to travel: The RTD. In any case, it should allow you to board the plane, and so if you have a problem it would be in the US, which is safer. Here, though, I do not see an issue. Take care, Jason

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Pineapple November 8, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Thank you so very much for your reply, Jason!!

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Sunday October 31, 2017 at 2:37 pm

My visa is valid till july 2018 i applied for asylum i got back my application forms and a notice of deficency and they are directing me to refill it and send to immigration court i dont understand sir

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Jason Dzubow October 31, 2017 at 4:45 pm

If they are telling you to send it to the court, it may mean that you have a prior deportation order. You should talk to a lawyer to determine what is going on. Good luck, Jason

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Malik October 25, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Hi Jason, My wife is the major applicant for asylum. She belongs to Afghanistan. I am from Pakistan and I have five years multiple B1 B2 visa valid till 2020. Can I travel to Pakistan and back to US while asylum application of my wife is still in process based on my valid B1 B2 visa.

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Jason Dzubow October 25, 2017 at 5:48 pm

I think if you do, you risk being detained and/or rejected at the airport when you return. If you are a dependent on her case, it is probably safer to get Advance Parole, as discussed above. Take care, Jason

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Prince October 9, 2017 at 1:51 am

Hello Jason

Is there any reason why Asylum seeker that traveled out of USA via Advance parole to a neighboring country of where he fears persecution be refused re-entry into the United States.

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Jason Dzubow October 9, 2017 at 6:53 am

The only time a problem might arise when traveling with AP is if you go to the country where you are seeking asylum from (usually your home country). Otherwise, it is normally alright to travel and return, but it depends on the case, and if you are not sure, have a lawyer look specifically at your case to advise you. Take care, Jason

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Kelly kellier October 6, 2017 at 6:38 pm

Hi Jason

Thank you for helping so many of us.
I have a question. I complete 150 days in 2 days, which gives me an opputunity to apply for my first EAD we are filling up the form and sending it as per the process.
Any idea how long do I need to wait until I recieve it my EAD card. Also the new process I read on the USCIS website is that we now apply for SSN and EAD card together, is this true?
Since I have already waited for 5 months, will I get the EAD card sooner.
What would be the next step, do I file for my Id/licence or do i apply for SSN first if the new process is not in place.
Thank you for your help as always.

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Asylee October 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Initial EAD cards for pending-asylum cases generally come out faster than EAD renewals, usually in less than 2 months or even 1 month for some offices. You can track the progress/update times for each USCIS center for each immigration form filed. For the Texas service center, as of July 31 2017 they were working on initial EADs filed as of July 9! That is those who filed on July 9 2017 got their EADs either approved or produced by July 31 2017! That is in just 3 weeks! So you can visit the link below, determine the service center in charge of your area and see their current wait times. I was just like you but I am now an asylee since march last year and waiting on my green card after having spent 1 year living in the US.

https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do

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Kelly kellier October 7, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Thank you asylee for responding.
I wish to talk you just to get some more information. Please could you drop me your email address?

Thank u!

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Kelly kellier October 7, 2017 at 4:44 pm

I have checked the link you sent me and the date given for i-765, 01 May 2017!
What does that mean?

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Kelly kellier October 7, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Many congratulations on your achievement, this is huge when you given chance to live a life in peace.

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Asylee October 7, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Yea, just at the top of the chart you’ll see something like,
Field Office Processing Dates for Texas Service Center as of: July 31, 2017. It just means that as of July 31 2017 (2 and half months ago), the Texas Service Center (TSC) was processing those who applied on or after May 1 2017 for the i-765 category based on a pending asylum application.

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Kelly kellier October 8, 2017 at 2:15 am

Thanks so much for your help.
Please let me know if you are happy to share your email address here so that I can ask you some questions.
Thanks again! And congrats on green card which you are soon to receive soon.

Jason Dzubow October 8, 2017 at 11:24 am

Thank you for that – also, if you look on your I-765 receipt, it will indicate which office is processing your case. Take care, Jason

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Jason Dzubow October 8, 2017 at 7:54 am

We have been seeing initial EADs take 2 to 4 months, though it is getting closer to 4 than to 2. Other parts of the country (maybe California) are seeing EADs take closer to a month or two. I have heard that SS cards will be issued when you get your EAD, but I do not know if that has started yet. Once you have the EAD, you can apply for a driver’s license (some states may allow you to apply for a license even before you get the EAD, but you would have to check with the state DMV). Take care, Jason

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Kelly kellier October 8, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Many thanks Jason.
You anf your team keeps us going in the right direction with so many questions being answered.
Thanks again for having the patience to help each and everyone here.
I hope to get EAD sooner as without it, its impossible to move forward or work with any employer.

Thanks again!

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ELYON October 4, 2017 at 12:35 pm

I’m come in the united states with my daughter 3 months ago since we asked for asylum and my question is how can I get assurance for my daughter who has 2 years because she need it at school without it, she can’t still study

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Jason Dzubow October 5, 2017 at 6:16 am

I do not know about that. I recommend you Google “Catholic Charities” + the name of your city. You can go to the local office and they might be able to advise you about this. Take care, Jason

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Ken October 3, 2017 at 1:39 am

Hi jason,

An asylee gives two affidavits to his/her attorney. Later the attorney submits those affidavits to the court. Before going to the hearing asylee finds out there are discrepancies between the two affidavits.
1. Is attorney at fault for those discrepancies?
2. Should attorney tell the court about the discrepancies? Before or during the hearing? Or just wait until court asks about them?
3. May the asylee file complain against the attorney?
4. What may the judge do about the situation?

Thank you.

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Jason Dzubow October 3, 2017 at 6:20 am

1 – Maybe. We try to check all affidavits to make sure that they are consistent, but this is not always easy. 2 – If this was my case, I would definitely tell the judge before the trial (or maybe mail in a corrected affidavit before trial). It is much better to correct the problem beforehand than to have the judge or DHS attorney discover the problem and use it to attack credibility. 3 – Yes, but unless the error is pretty egregious, I doubt it would result in anything, and even so, this generally would have no effect on an immigration case (unless it was part of a motion to reopen in a “Lozada” case). 4 – If the judge thinks that the applicant is lying, the judge will likely deny the case. Take care, Jason

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Grace September 30, 2017 at 3:15 am

Hi Jason,
We are asylee here and our case is still pending. My husband is main applicants. My son he is 15, he got an opportunity for mission trip from a church and he has to go to Bulgaria. Do you think that it will be wise to send him outside of the state when our case is still pending? We are from India.
Thanks

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Jason Dzubow October 1, 2017 at 9:45 pm

I think that is a very bad idea – there is a good chance he will not be able to return to the US if he leaves (assuming your case is still pending). If you do really want to send him out of the US, talk to a lawyer first to go over the options and to try to protect him. Take care, Jason

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sim September 29, 2017 at 5:42 pm

hi jason,

just wanted to know if i m move my case and start living in san jose .. just wanted to know if my case comes under san Francisco of i’ll be interviewed in sub office of santa clara CA

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Jason Dzubow October 1, 2017 at 8:25 am

I do not know – you can find your office (but not sub office) if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator and enter your zip code. Take care, Jason

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Soliman September 28, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Hi Jason,

I came to the US with F-1 visa, this month I got my EAD and an offer from a company, so I want to start full-time working. My question is if I withdraw my current school does it effect to my asylum case now or in the future? thank you very much!

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Jason Dzubow September 29, 2017 at 6:15 am

It should not affect your asylum case, but if your case is denied, there is a different procedure whether you are “in status” or “out of status.” If you are in status, you will get a letter explaining why they want to deny, you can respond to it, and if they still deny the case, you will just continue here on your F-1 visa. If you are out of status and they deny, they will send you to an immigration court where you can present your case again. If the case is granted, it does not matter whether you are in or out of status. Take care, Jason

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Soliman September 30, 2017 at 8:37 am

Thank you very much! Jason
Can I keep my SSN? My SSN was applied by my school, if I withdraw the school, do they cancel my SSN? thanks!

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Jason Dzubow October 1, 2017 at 9:47 pm

I am not sure – Once you have an SSN, I do not think anyone takes it away, though you can become ineligible for employment, depending on your immigration status here. Take care, Jason

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Chan September 27, 2017 at 1:54 am

I filled my case in May 2015 in Minnesota. I apply through Chicago office though. I was interviewed on August 18th 2017. Still didn’t get any answer yet. I want to move to Chicago. Should I better keep my address from Minnesota or I can just change to Chicago one without transfer my case? I know that if you change the state you have to transfer your case to another state.

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Jason Dzubow September 27, 2017 at 6:40 am

If you move, you must change your address using form AR-11, available at http://www.uscis.gov. If you have already been interviewed, the case should not be moved to a new office. Aside from the AR-11, which you can file on-line, you might also contact the asylum office and tell them about your new address, and also inquire about the status of your case. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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Diego Hernandez September 23, 2017 at 8:09 pm

Hi Jason,

My passport is about to expire and I don’t know if I should or if I shouldn’t renew it… What are the implications on this?
Is it important to have a valid passport when I have a pending asylum application?

Thanks for your answer!!

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bagira September 23, 2017 at 8:11 pm

You don’t need to renew it, and if you do it will be a problem in the interview.. good luck and take care.

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Jason Dzubow September 25, 2017 at 8:40 am

If you are seeking asylum, it is better not to renew the passport, especially if you fear your home government. We have not seen any real problem for people who renewed, but the asylum office might be suspicious of a person who claims that they are afraid of the home government, but who then renews the passport. Take care, Jason

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John September 25, 2017 at 9:28 pm

Yes, you don’t have to renew your passport. I renewed mine because I was still a student on F1 visa when I had a pending asylum case. Reason being that I had to maintain a valid passport(continue to maintain my F1 status), per US immigration law. I was still on F1 even the day I was interviewed, and Asylum officer made copies of my new passport. Plus she also took my passport to a certain room for about 10 minutes.

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Anonymous September 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Hi,
I have a pending asylum since June 2015. I filed in the Chicago office. Early this year I was issued with a second work authorization which to my surprise(happy one) was for two years. I have not been interviewed yet.

On September 21st 2017 I received a letter dated September 16th 2017 (i767c-notice of action) this letter was informing me that they were processing my case and that I didn’t have to appear for biometrics as the ones they had were sufficient. It also stated that they would let me know in writing if anything else was needed

I have been following how the interviews are proceeding in Chicago. I know that in August 2017 they scheduled interviews for those who filled in May 2015. I was therefore expecting an interview notice.

Has anyone else received this kind of letter? I am wondering if it’s followed by an interview date. Kindly advise.

Thank you.

Reply

Jason Dzubow September 25, 2017 at 8:36 am

Such letters arrive for many applicants – I am not sure why some people get them and others do not, and it may mean an interview is coming soon (but it may mean nothing at all). In any case, you should be prepared for an interview and make sure all evidence has been submitted. Take care, Jason

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Sara September 20, 2017 at 11:05 pm

I have received a finger print notice ,does it mean anything? Its been over a year since my asylum interview with no decision yet . (been 15 months since 1st finger print). thx

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Jason Dzubow September 21, 2017 at 10:14 pm

Sometimes, we see people get a second fingerprint notice and then get a decision or another interview, but not always. You might want to contact your asylum office and inquire about the status of your case. You can find their contact info if you follow the link at right called Asylum Office Locator. Take care, Jason

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