In August 2017, rumors began circulating that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services was denying applications for advance parole if the applicant had departed the US before the application was approved.
Soon after these reports surfaced, USCIS officially confirmed the change, which was implemented without formal announcement or advance notice of any kind. Since then, USCIS has indiscriminately applied the policy, including to those who traveled with their existing valid advance paroles (for example, while their renewals were pending) or on valid “dual intent” visas, such as H and L.
H and L workers have historically traveled freely and without adverse impact after filing both advance parole and adjustment applications, while others – such as those on E, O, P, and TN visas – are held to a “non-immigrant” intent standard and must wait for advance parole before traveling.
This week, USCIS revised its advance parole policy yet again, this time by adding “Special Instructions” to its website, Application for Travel Document | USCIS, which read as follows:
If you file Form I-131 … to request an advance parole document and depart the United States without possession of an advance parole document that is valid for the entire time you are abroad, your Form I-131 will be considered abandoned. At times, an individual may have an approved advance parole document while a second one is pending. [Those] individuals may travel … provided the document is valid for the entire duration of the time abroad. The pending Form I-131 will not be considered abandoned in this situation.
Since these “Special Instructions” do not exempt “dual intent” nonimmigrants, H and L workers should expect continuing denials of their advance parole applications unless they hold existing parole valid for the entire duration of their foreign trips.