INS Chicago Implements New Advance Parole Procedures
July 18, 2002

In the past month INS Chicago announced new procedures for the processing of requests for advance parole travel documents, with the major change being a 30 day processing time, rather than the previous 1 day, walk up service.

Firstly, what is an advance parole travel document?

The advance parole document, also referred to as a “parole visa” in some communities, is a document that allows individuals residing in the U.S. with pending I-485 applications for adjustment of status (for permanent residence or “green card”) to reenter the U.S. after traveling abroad for a period not exceeding 60 days. Most advance parole documents are valid for a 1 year period and for multiple entries, again, with each trip outside the U.S. not exceeding 60 days.

To obtain such a document, the applicant must submit Form I-131 with proof that he/she:

  1. has a pending I-485 application for adjustment of status in the U.S. (final stage toward permanent residence),
  2. has a bona fide personal or business reason to travel (that could really be anything) and
  3. has not accumulated more than 180 days of “unlawful presence” in the U.S. prior to the filing of the I-485 application.

What is unlawful presence?

Generally, it is time the applicant has spent in the U.S. in violation of their U.S. nonimmigrant visa, such as the time that has passed since the expiration of their status as a tourist or temporary worker. Importantly, however, loopholes in the rules may allow certain out of status F-1 (student) or J-1 (training or cultural exchange) to qualify for advance paroles, despite their having violated or overstayed the terms of their status.

Where are requests for advance parole submitted?

The INS office having jurisdiction over the I-485 permanent residence application. Most employment based applicants residing in the U.S. Chicago area, have their I-485 applications pending at the INS Nebraska Service Center, although on occasion, applications are transferred to a local INS office, such as INS Chicago, if it is determined that an adjustment of status interview is in order.

On the other hand, those who are applying for permanent residence based on a family petition, like that of a spouse, submit their applications with their local INS office, such as INS Chicago. And under new procedures, eligible applicants now have a choice of submitting their advance parole applications simultaneously with their adjustment of status applications, or waiting until some later date while their adjustment applications are pending. The down side, of course, of waiting until some later date, is that the applicant will needlessly end up waiting an additional 30 days for the request to be processed, as opposed to just having the application processed immediately and facilitating the issuance of the document right off the bat (within 30 days of the initial I-485 submission).

On the other hand, should a pending adjustment of status applicant need an advance parole travel document on an emergency basis, a local INS office, such as INS Chicago, will process a request within a few days as long as documentation of the urgent circumstances can be provided (e.g. correspondence confirming emergency medical condition or death of an overseas relative, correspondence from employer confirming an urgent business transaction in need of immediate attention).

In either case, all advance parole requests for INS Chicago must be submitted by mail to the appropriate P.O. Box., and emergency requests should be noted accordingly.

As to individuals who have accumulated more than 180 days of unlawful presence prior the filing of their I-485 applications, overseas travel plans will have to be put on hold at least until an I-551 permanent resident stamp is affixed in their passport – a stamp that is obtained at the time of their adjustment of status application is approved.

Copyright © 2002-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois