Travel Permits

Travel outside of the United States may have severe consequences, you should know what documents will be required to re-enter the United States as well as understand whether or not your departure will negatively impact your application(s) for immigration benefits. You must have in your possession a valid and unexpired travel document to present to the officer at the port of entry.

Depending on your immigration status, You may need to carry different types of travel documents if you wish to return to the United States after traveling abroad. In certain cases, you should apply for these documents before you leave the U.S. or if you have an application for an immigration benefit pending different documents may be required.

USCIS issues four types of travel documents:

  • Advance parole;
  • Refugee travel document;
  • Re-entry permit; and
  • Carrier documentation.

Advance Parole

Allows you to travel to the United States without needing a visa. Having an advance parole document does not guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the U.S. At the airport or border, a CBP officer will make the final decision. An advance parole document does not replace your passport.

If you are experiencing an extremely urgent situation, you may request an emergency advance parole appointment You should bring the following items to your appointment:

  • A completed and signed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  • The correct I-131 filing fee
  • Evidence to support the emergency request (e.g. medical documentation, death certificate)
  • Two passport-style photos

Refugee Travel Document

USCIS issues refugee travel documents to people with refugee or asylum status and to lawful permanent residents who obtained their Green Cards based on their refugee or asylee status.

You must have a refugee travel document to return to the United States if you:

  • Have refugee or asylee status but are not a lawful permanent resident
  • Are you a derivative asylee or a refugee

An asylum applicant who leaves the United States without first obtaining
advance parole shall be presumed to have abandoned his or her asylum application. Advance parole does not guarantee that the alien will be paroled into the U.S. The asylum applicant must still undergo inspection by an immigration inspector from the US Customs and Border Protection.

Asylees (individuals who have been granted asylum) may travel abroad with the prior approval of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A refugee travel document is valid for one year and is issued to an asylee to allow his or her return to the United States after temporary travel abroad.

An asylum applicant who leaves the United States without advance parole and returns to his or her country of claimed persecution should be prepared to explain the reason for the return.

Accordingly, an asylee or a lawful permanent resident who obtained such status based on a grant of asylum status may be questioned about why he or she was able to return to the country of claimed persecution and, in some circumstances, may be subject to proceedings to terminate asylum status.

Re-entry Permit

A lawful permanent resident normally may travel outside the United States and return; however, there are some limitations. A re-entry permit can help prevent problems.

U.S. permanent and conditional residents should apply for a re-entry permit if they will be outside the United States for one year or more. Re-entry permits allow you to apply for admission to the U.S without having to obtain a returning resident visa.

A re-entry permit establishes that you did not intend to abandon your status, and it allows you to apply for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to 2 years without having to obtain a returning resident visa. Reentry permits are normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance.

You may also want to get a re-entry permit if you plan on traveling outside the United States and cannot or do not wish to get a passport from your home country.

Carrier Documentation

Carrier documentation allows an airline or other transportation carrier to board permanent residents who have temporarily been outside the United States and whose Green Card or re-entry permit has been lost, stolen, or destroyed.  You may need to file a Form I-131A.

If you are in the process of adjusting your status (applying for a Green Card). In general, if you are seeking immigrant status (a Green Card) and depart the United States without the appropriate documentation (i.e. advance parole) you may be inadmissible to the United States upon return, or even if admitted, you may be found to have abandoned your application.

It is possible to get an expedited travel document if you need to travel because of an emergency. USCIS issues emergency travel documents in situations like the death or sudden illness of a family member abroad. If you find yourself in this situation, you can make an appointment with your local USCIS office.

Xavier Law Firm recommends that you consult an immigration attorney who will advise you of the required documentation for safe travel. An immigration attorney will not only provide you with information and guide you through the entire process but will also ensure that you meet all of the requirements to successfully apply.



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