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Can I travel if my I-485 is Pending?

 

Welcome back to the Immigration Lawyer Blog, where we discuss all things immigration. In this video, we discuss a frequently asked question: can you travel with a pending I-485 Adjustment of Status application?

Overview:

Generally, anytime a person has a pending application with USCIS like a visa extension or change of status petition, that person cannot depart the United States until that petition is approved.

In this video however we will focus specifically on applicants who have a pending I-485 adjustment of status application based on family or employment sponsorship.

Employment-Based Applicants 

With regard to employment-based adjustment of status applicants, this category of applicants is typically present in the United states on a valid non-immigrant visa classification such as H1B, L1, etc. and are simply waiting for their I-485 green card petition to be adjudicated.

With respect to H1B and L1 visa holders ONLY, these individuals can depart the United States on their H1B or L1 visa classification and return, despite having a pending I-485 application.

However, any other employment-based applicants who are NOT on an H1B or L1 visa classification, cannot depart the United States with a pending I-485 application, UNLESS they have a valid travel permit from USCIS known as “advance parole.”

An applicant may apply for “advance parole” at the same time as the green card application, or while the I-485 application is pending, by filing Form I-131 Application for Travel Document.

Without a valid “advance parole” document, an applicant with a pending I-485 cannot depart the United States, with the limited exception of H1B and L1 visa holders.

Family-Based Applicants

The same is true of family-based applicants. Individuals with a pending I-485 based on family sponsorship cannot depart the United States unless they have a valid “advance parole” document permitting them to re-enter the United States after temporary foreign travel.

Again, an applicant may apply for “advance parole” at the same time as the green card application, or while the I-485 application is pending, by filing Form I-131 Application for Travel Document.

Individuals who depart the United States without a valid “advance parole” document will abandon their pending I-485 application and it will be cancelled. In addition, these individuals may face serious immigration consequences in the future.

When should you apply for Advance Parole?

If you are anticipating international travel, you should apply for advance parole 6-7 months before your planned date of travel. At the moment it is taking an average of 5-7 months for advance parole documents to be approved.

You should not under any circumstances make travel plans if you do not have your “advance parole” in hand. Mistakes happen and it is not unheard of for USCIS to lose your advance parole document in the mail.

Make certain that you have your advance parole document before you make any commitments.

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