If you have filed Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, and that application is still pending, there are very specific rules that apply to your travel outside the United States. There are no restrictions on domestic travel before Form I-485 is approved. However, travel abroad can affect your pending application and your immigration status. Always check with your transportation carrier to ensure you bring the appropriate identification.
International Travel Before Form I-485 is Approved
If your I-485 Adjustment of Status application is pending, traveling anywhere outside the United States (including brief trips to Canada or Mexico) can lead to the denial of your Form I-485. In fact, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will assume that you abandoned your application unless:
- You are an H, L, V or K3/K4 nonimmigrant who is maintaining lawful nonimmigrant status and you return with a valid H, L, V or K3/K4 nonimmigrant visa; or
- You obtain, before you leave the United States, an advance parole document, and you are paroled into the United States when you return.
Advance parole enables an adjustment of status applicant to travel before Form I-485 is approved. Specifically, it allows you to be paroled back to the United States without applying for a visa. A transportation company (e.g. airline) can accept an advance parole document instead of a visa as proof that you are authorized to travel to the United States. An advance parole document does not replace your passport.
Equally important, the advance parole document preserves a pending adjustment of status application (Form I-485) with USCIS.
Travel Risks with Advance Parole
Having an advance parole document is not a guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the United States. At the port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will make the final decision about whether to allow you to reenter the United States.
Some of the reasons to contact an immigration attorney before requesting advance parole with Form I-485 include, but are not limited to, if you have ever:
- Been arrested or convicted of a crime;
- Been in immigration court proceedings:
- Spent any time inside the United States in an unlawful status; or
- Been detained or refused entry at the border.
If any of the issues mentioned above apply to your situation, please speak to your immigration attorney before traveling outside the United States.
Obtaining Advance Parole
Adjustment of Status applicants may apply for advance parole by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. CitizenPath recommends that you file Form I-131 at the same time as your Form I-485. When you file them concurrently, there is no additional USCIS filing fee for Form I-131.