Individuals who are in the United States are advised not to leave the country once they have filed their application for a green card. However, if you have to go on an emergency trip, one which cannot be postponed, you can make short international trips if you have an advance parole document.
The advance parole document, also known as the travel document, is not a requirement for departure from the United States. However, with your permanent residence status pending, border authorities may rule that you abandoned your application halfway through the process. Thus, without the advance parole document, they may not allow you back into the country.
As green card applications take a long time to be processed (anywhere from nine months to a year), there might be any number of reasons, applicants may want to leave the country. These include business trips, weddings or even family emergencies. Thus, the Advance Parole document caters for this convenience.
If you need the advance parole document, you need to apply for it before you leave the United States.
Moreover, as these documents will not be shipped overseas, you will also need to receive the document before leaving the United States. To apply for the document, you will need to fill out and file Form I-131, known as the Application for Travel Document. You can fill out and file this form together with your main application for green card.
Moreover, the advance parole document application form may also be filed when the I-485 application form is pending. The application fee for filing the Form I-131 is $360. In some cases, an additional biometric fee of $85 may be charged as well if deemed necessary.
Processing times of such official documents have been known to vary. Usually, the advance parole document application may take three months to be processed. However, the document can be expedited for an additional fee if the applicant presents a valid reason such as having an urgent family emergency to attend to.
The Advance parole document is valid for one year. If necessary, the document can be renewed. If you are taking a trip using this travel document, you are advised not to extend the trip longer than a month as it is considered the maximum amount of time that one should be overseas while their permanent resident status is pending.