Winds of Change in USCIS Immigration Requirements
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) generated a policy memo to update the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify the effect of travel outside the United States by temporary protected status (TPS) beneficiaries who have final removal orders. The policy memo could be found here
Immigration laws have significantly changed or redefined in during 2017-2019. The wait time for immigration is an all-time high, meanwhile, people need to travel to their home countries. Hence, it is prudent to be aware of the required travel documents to avoid delay at the US port of entry.
What is I-131, Application for Travel Document?
This form could be used to apply for
- A re-entry permit
- Refugee travel document
- Advance parole travel document, to include parole into the U.S. for humanitarian reasons
Copy of Form I-131 could be found here. To ensure you are using the latest version of this form, visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov where you can obtain the latest USCIS forms and immigration-related information.
Are There Penalties for Filing False Documents?
- If a person willfully falsify or conceal a material fact or submit a false document with this request, USCIS will deny their Form I-131
- USCIS may deny any other immigration benefit
- In addition, that person will face severe penalties provided by law and may be subject to criminal prosecution
What is a Reentry Permit?
A Reentry Permit allows a lawful permanent resident or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission to the United States upon returning from abroad during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate.
What is a Refugee Travel Document?
- A Refugee Travel Document is issued to an individual in a valid refugee or asylee status
- To a lawful permanent resident who obtained such status as a refugee or asylee in the United States
- Individuals who hold asylee or refugee status and are not lawful permanent residents must have a Refugee Travel Document to return to the United States after travel abroad, unless they possess an Advance Parole Document
- A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer at the U.S. port-of-entry will determine their admissibility when you present your travel document
What is the Utility of the Advance Parole Document for Individuals Who are Currently in the United States?
- Parole allows an alien to physically enter into the United States for a specific purpose
- An individual who has been “paroled” has not been admitted to the United States and remains an “applicant for admission” even while paroled. DHS, as a matter of discretion, may issue an Advance Parole Document to authorize an alien to appear at a port-of-entry to seek parole into the United States
- The document may be accepted by a transportation company in lieu of a visa as an authorization for the holder to travel to the United States
- An Advance Parole Document is not issued to serve in place of any required passport
- The document does not entitle you to be paroled into the United States
- A separate discretionary decision on a request for parole will be made when you arrive at a port-of-entry upon your return.
WARNING: DHS may revoke or terminate your Advance Parole Document at any time, including while you are outside the United States, in which event you may be unable to return to the United States unless you have a valid visa or other documents that permits you to travel to the United States and seek admission.
Note: Generally, if you are in the United States and have applied for adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident, your application will be deemed abandoned if you leave the United States without first obtaining an Advance Parole Document.
However, if you currently are in one of the following nonimmigrant classifications, and remain eligible for and would be admissible in one of the following categories upon applying for admission at a port-of-entry. The categories are:
- An H-1 temporary worker
- H-4 spouse or child of an H-1; b
- An L-1 intracompany transferee,
- L-2 spouse or child of an L-1
- A K-3 spouse, or K-4 child of a U.S. citizen
- A V-1 spouse, or V-2/V-3 child of a lawful permanent resident
NOTE: Upon returning to the United States, most individuals must present
- a valid H, L, K, or V nonimmigrant visa and must continue to be otherwise admissible
- If a person does not have a valid or unexpired H, L, K, or V nonimmigrant visa, then they generally need to obtain an H, L, K, or V nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Department of State (DOS) visa issuing post
- Individuals will need a valid nonimmigrant visa, advance parole, or other travel documents to present for reentry
Who Should File I-31?
Each applicant must file a separate application for a travel document.
- If an individual is in the United States as a lawful permanent resident or conditional permanent resident, they may apply for a Reentry Permit
- They must be physically present in the United States when they file the Reentry Permit application and complete the biometrics services requirement
- After filing their application for a Reentry Permit, USCIS will inform them in writing when to go to your local Application Support Center (ASC) for their biometrics services appointment
- Generally, a Reentry Permit issued to a lawful permanent resident is valid for 2 years from the date of issuance
- A Reentry Permit may not be extended
Refugee Travel Document
- If an individual is in the United States in a valid refugee or asylee status or is a lawful permanent resident as a direct result of their refugee or asylee status in the United States, they may apply for a Refugee Travel Document
- They should apply for a Refugee Travel Document BEFORE they leave the United States
- If biometrics services are required and they fail to appear to have the biometrics collected, the application may be denied
- Unless they have other appropriate documentation, such as a Permanent Resident Card and passport, they must have a Refugee Travel Document to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad
If the Individual is Outside of the United States:
- Have valid refugee or asylee status
- Have a lawful permanent resident as a direct result of their refugee or asylee status in the United States, they may be permitted to file Form I-131 and apply for a Refugee Travel Document
- The USCIS Overseas District Director with jurisdiction over your location makes this decision in his or her discretion
- A Refugee Travel Document is valid for 1 year
- A Refugee Travel Document may not be extended
Advance Parole Document for Individuals Who Are Currently in the United States
If an individual is in the United States and seek an Advance Parole Document, they may apply if:
- They have a pending application to adjust status, Form I-485, and they seek to travel abroad temporarily for
- “urgent humanitarian reasons”
- In furtherance of a “significant public benefit,” which may include a personal or family emergency or bona fide business reasons
- They have a pending application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) (Form I-821), have been granted TPS
- Have been granted, T status
- U nonimmigrant status
- They have been granted parole pursuant to INA section 212(d)(5), AND they seek to travel abroad temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or in furtherance of a significant public benefit
- USCIS or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has deferred action in their case as a childhood arrival based on the guidelines described in the Secretary of Homeland Security’s memorandum issued on June 15, 2012 (DACA)
- USCIS has granted the individual IMMACT 90 or LIFE Act Family Unity Program benefits, AND they seek to travel abroad temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or in furtherance of a significant public benefit, which may include a personal or family emergency or bona fide business reasons
- An Individual has a pending application for temporary resident status pursuant to INA section 245A, and you seek to travel abroad temporarily for urgent humanitarian reasons or in furtherance of a significant public benefit, which may include a personal or family emergency or bona fide business reasons
Advance Parole Document for Individuals Outside the United States
If an individual is outside the United States and needs to visit the United States temporarily for an urgent humanitarian reason or for significant public benefit:
They may apply for an Advance Parole Document if they cannot obtain the necessary visa and any required waiver of inadmissibility or consent to reapply for admission
WARNING to asylees who travel to the country of claimed persecution: If an individual applied for asylum on or after April 1, 1997, their asylum status may be terminated if the U.S. Government determines that they have voluntarily availed themselves of the protection of their country of nationality or, if stateless, country of last habitual residence.
- If you are completing this form on a computer, the data you enter will be captured using 2D barcode technology.
- This capture will ensure that the data you provide is accurately entered into USCIS systems.
- Upon receipt of the form, USCIS will use the 2D barcode to extract the data from the form
- Please do not damage the 2D barcode (puncture, staple, spill on, write on, etc.) as this could affect the ability of USCIS to timely process your form.
This link provides a checklist of required for initial evidence.
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