Travel During the Application Process

While you are waiting for your application for permanent residence (Form I-485) to be processed, you must be careful about traveling outside the United States. If you don’t receive permission to travel before your trip, you might inadvertently cancel your permanent residence application.

Every applicant for permanent residence (except some statuses, including H status—see below) needs this permission, which is called “advance parole.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) awards advance parole.

Processing of advance parole can take up to four months at a minimum. If you must travel because of an urgent situation, contact us.

Apply for advance parole

The advance parole application requires the following documentation:

  1. Form I-131
  2. Two color photographs
  3. A photocopy of your USCIS receipt for Form I-485, unless you submit Form I-131 at the same time as Form I-485
  4. A photocopy of the identification page from your passport

If you file your advance parole application separately from Form I-485, send your application to the service center that provided your I-485 receipt.

Fee for advance parole application

Your I-485 fee covers the fee for an initial application or a renewal application.

Approval of advance parole

Form I-512 approves advance parole. Approval is granted for one year, and allows multiple entries into the United States while your permanent residence application is being processed.

Advance parole for F-1s, J-1s, J-2s, O-1s, and TNs

If you are an F-1, a J-1, a J-2, an O-1, or a TN and you have any form of employment that is authorization based on your visa status, you must apply for employment authorization on Form I-765 when you file for advance parole.

Travel abroad and return to the United States on an advance parole document ends your previous status. Any employment that is authorized by that status also ends. After your re-enter on the parole document, you must have the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to continue your employment. You can request work authorization by completing Form I-765.

Since EAD processing generally takes three months, we strongly advise applying for advance parole and for the EAD at the same time.

Advance parole for H-1Bs and H-4s

Travel abroad before the advance parole has been granted may cause your Form I-131 to be denied. Consider carefully if travel is required or if it can be delayed until the I-131 has been adjudicated.

If you are an H-1B specialty worker or an H-4 dependent and have not filed the I-131, you can travel if you have the following documentation:

  1. A valid passport with a valid H visa. (Canadian citizens do not need a visa. For others, if you do not have a valid H visa stamp, you will need to apply for a new one at a U.S. embassy or consulate if you are not using advance parole.)
  2. Your original USCIS approval notice (I-797) showing valid H status
  3. A letter from the employer that is listed on your I-797 approval notice, confirming that you continue to work in the same position for which you obtained H status

You must obtain advance parole if you meet one of these three criteria:

  • You used an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for an outside employer.
  • You are an H-4 dependent who has used an EAD based on a permanent residence application.
  • You are the dependent of an H-1 who has used an EAD for an outside employer.

If you are an H-1B employee and you are working only for your H-1B employer on a valid H-1B petition, you do not need to obtain an EAD after you travel with advance parole, as long as you will return and continue the employment that is authorized by your H-1B status.

We suggest showing the advance parole card and the valid H-1B petition at the port of entry.