advance parole

DACA and Traveling Abroad: A Pathway to Citizenship?

By Peek & Toland on February 3, 2021

When it comes to immigration issues, and DACA especially, the questions concerning permits and permissions usually surround wanting to stay within the U.S., but what if you are here through the DACA program and want to temporarily leave the U.S.? Can you do so legally and return to the U.S.? There are many reasons someone might need or want to temporarily leave the United States, so let’s take a look at what that means for Dreamers.

You need more than DACA to leave

As mentioned, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program that allows people who came to the United States as children to legally live within the U.S. borders without being a full U.S. citizen. If you’re wanting to venture outside of the U.S., you will need more than your DACA status to do so and safely and legally return here. Attempting to leave the U.S. and return with DACA alone can result in your DACA status being revoked indefinitely. While the short answer is that DACA does not grant access to leave and return to the U.S., there are other options that will allow this.

Advance Parole

Advance Parole is a process in U.S. immigration law that allows immigrants to leave the U.S. and then re-enter lawfully. This process was readily open and widely used during the Obama administration. Now that President Biden is in office and has announced applications for Advance Parole will be processed, it’s the perfect opportunity to look at who can travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter through this program and how.

Not all Fun and Games

The Advance Parole permit is quite appealing, and for reasons far greater and more desirable than an extended vacation in the Caribbean. This program can literally be life-changing for qualifying Dreamers, as re-entry into the United States under Advance Parole is considered a lawful entry into the U.S. What’s the significance there? A lawful entry into the U.S. from an approved trip abroad means eligibility to apply for a Green Card, thus creating a clear path to citizenship for Dreamers. Wow, right? Wow, indeed, but why aren’t Dreamers lining up en masse to apply for Advance Parole? Unfortunately, Advance Parole is more limited and has tighter allowances for Dreamers than it is for other immigrants.

Strictly Business

When it comes to telling U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) why you, as a Dreamer, need Advance Parole to leave and re-enter the U.S., your circumstances need to be exceptional and serious, as USCIS does not grant Advanced Parole with DACA for vacations and fun. While you might feel you desperately and urgently need a vacation in Cancun, the generally accepted situations USCIS counts as exceptional are more along the lines of urgent emergencies, important events like somebody’s wedding, a funeral, visiting a sick relative, giving blood, or otherwise helping somebody wind up their affairs or legal matters outside the country. Permissible reasons for travel can also be for business, training, and study abroad programs. Because of the very tight restrictions and scrutiny on Dreamers, it’s very important to have capable counsel advise you on your Advance Parole application.

Why is it important?

Of course, needing to travel out of the country to help a family in need or attend training or an important event is important; but, as I mentioned earlier, the act of legally re-entering the U.S. creates pathways for secured legal status in the U.S. in a few ways: having a passport stamped, being inspected legally for the first time, is a new legal entry which will now open the door for citizenship, which also allows for citizenship for a future spouse. Also, if you were somebody who came in illegally, that could be the difference between being able to get residency here in the United States or having to apply through another process that’s much longer and much more expensive. If you or your family aren’t eligible for those options, there are others.

Parole in Place

Another option for a pathway to citizenship is through a unique program for qualifying undocumented family members of U.S. military personnel, both active and veteran. Parole in Place allows non-citizen family members who are in the U.S. unlawfully to apply for a green card, without having to leave the country. While parole in place is usually for spouses of people in the military, this program is also for children of persons in the military, and even parents of those who are in the military. Qualifying candidates must show in their application the relation they have with this person in the military and that they’re either active or honorably discharged from the military. Once granted, Parole in Place treats you as though you have left and re-entered the U.S., inspected lawfully and legally, though you don’t actually have to leave—hence the in place.

While you may want to leave, may be able to leave, or maybe treated as though you’ve left, there are a few options for changing your status that is very much worth reviewing with one of our qualified and passionate immigration attorneys who have helped many families reunite and get residency through these processes.

Continue to tune into Immigration Wednesdays and keep up with us on social media as we expand the conversation on immigration processes in the coming weeks. We’re very excited about all the updates and changes from this new administration, and we hope we can help you secure your life here through some of these programs.

Posted in Citizenship, Deferred Action, Immigration

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What is Advance Parole?

By Peek & Toland on April 7, 2019

When you are present in the U.S. and have a pending petition for adjustment of status to a green card or a marriage-based green card, leaving the country can be a tricky proposition. Leaving the U.S. while your petition is pending case be risky, since it can result in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) concluding that you have chosen to abandon your petition and lead to your inability to reenter the country. Therefore, you probably should avoid leaving the country while your petition is pending except in the case of an emergency.

If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to obtain advance parole BEFORE leaving the country. Advance parole gives you permission to physically enter the country for a specific purpose, much like a visa. In this case, however, advance parole allows you to reenter the country while you have a pending adjustment of status petition without considering you to have abandoned your petition. When you have advance parole, you can present yourself at any U.S. port of entry to gain entrance into the country in the absence of a visa.

What is Advance Parole?

To apply for advance parole, you must submit Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and file it with USCIS, along with a filing fee. It takes USCIS about 90 days to process these applications, if not longer, so you should submit it in as far in advance of your trip as possible. You will need to submit various supporting documents along with your application, including:

·         A copy of your receipt from USCIS showing that you have petition to adjust your status and obtain a green card

·         Two passport-style photographs taken with in the last 30 days

·         Evidence showing that your trip is for educational, humanitarian, or employment reasons

·         Identification documents and evidence of your current immigration status

·         Evidence indicating why your current circumstances warrant the issuance of advance parole

The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are seeking any type of relief or benefit under federal immigration laws. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your case. It is our intention to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you through this complicated situation.

Posted in Immigration

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Texas Service Center Denies Advance Parole Applications

By Peek & Toland on April 12, 2018

Advance parole is a permit for a non-citizen who does not have a valid immigrant visa, to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad. An airline can accept an advance parole document instead of a visa as proof that you are allowed to travel to the United States. However, an advance parole document does not replace your passport.

In the past, the federal authorities allowed advance parole applications for people who traveled abroad before their applications were approved.

However, in the fall of 2017 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed it was still denying travel from its Texas service center while the advanced parole form I-131 was pending

The stance ran contrary to a longstanding practice by the USCIS to allow international travel while an I-131 is pending, assuming the applicant had another means of being readmitted to the United States, such as an H-1B visa or an unexpired advance parole.

Texas center denies advance parole

Advance parole applications are denied

Usually, when an applicant for adjustment of status (form I-485) leaves the United States while an application is still pending, the I-485 is denied and the application is scrapped.

This is not the case if an adjustment applicant is in lawful L-1, L-2, H-4, H1B, K-3, K-4, or V status, and continues to be eligible for that status on return to the United States. In these cases, the application is not considered to be abandoned.

If an adjustment applicant travels overseas during when the I-485 application is pending, it is not typically denied as long as the foreign national has a valid, unexpired advance parole document that was approved prior to departing the United States.

The relatively new stance of I-131 applications being denied because the applicant traveled while an application was pending is of concern to immigration lawyers.

The new approach by USCIS may reflect President Donald Trump’s stance of reducing parole applications and approvals.

Advanced parole is on occasions confused with a reentry permit. Advanced parole is issued to an undocumented immigrant who does not have permanent resident status. A Reentry Permit is issued to a permanent resident of the United States. The two documents are very different in physical appearance. While Advance Parole is a single piece of paper bearing the individual’s photo, a Re-entry Permit looks like a passport.

Our Austin immigration attorneys can help with a wide variety of visa needs. Call us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Immigration, Visas

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