Generally, it takes about three months for USCIS to process your Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Check USCIS processing times for the latest estimates. However, you may be able to get expedited processing of a travel document in certain situations.
Criteria for Expedited Processing on Form I-131
USCIS may expedite an Application for Travel Document (Form I-131), in certain situations, which may include:
- Severe financial loss to company or person;
- Emergency situations;
- Humanitarian reasons;
- Nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States;
- Department of Defense or National Interest Situation (Note: The request must come from an official U.S. Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to the Government.);
- USCIS error; or
- Compelling interest of USCIS.
How to Request Expedited Processing on Form I-131
It can be difficult to obtain a travel document on an expedited basis. It’s always best to apply for a travel document well in advance of travel, whenever possible. However, when there is a need, there are steps applicants should take to improve their chances of having such requests approved.
Write a cover letter requesting expedited processing
Write a cover letter that explains the reason for your expedited request. USCIS may expedite your application for Advance Parole if it meets the criteria listed above.
The burden is on the applicant to prove that one or more of the expedite criteria above have been met.
Gather evidence that proves your urgent need
Gather documentation that supports your reason for expedited processing. Many humanitarian emergencies are due to family health issues. Examples of acceptable documents may include: proof of a fatality, hospital records, or doctor’s letter. Evidence is extraordinarily important to the success of your request. Without evidence that validates your request, you should not have an expectation that USCIS will approved your request for expedited processing of a travel document.
Prepare your Application for Travel Document
Complete Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, indicating your request for an Advance Parole Document, Reentry Permit, or Refugee Travel Document. It’s extremely important that the application is accurate and prepared correctly. Mistakes and omissions will significantly delay the process. CitizenPath can help you prepare form I-131 quickly and accurately.
File Form I-131, cover letter, filing fee and all supporting documentation according to your filing instructions. Use an overnight method (e.g. FedEx, UPS) to mail your expedited request.
Contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283 one week after filing to follow up on your request. Be prepared to follow up with an Infopass appointment at your local USCIS office.
Consequences of Leaving the United States
Before departing the United States, understand what documents you will need to reenter the U.S. Generally, you should obtain your travel document before leaving the United States. Likewise, understand whether or not your departure will negatively impact your application(s) for immigration benefits.
For example, travel outside of the United States may have severe consequences if you are in the process of adjusting status to permanent resident (applying for a green card). In general, if you are seeking immigrant status (green card) and depart the United States without Advance Parole, you may be inadmissible to the United States upon return, or even if admitted, you may be found to have abandoned your I-485 application.