Travel Outside the US while Permanent Residence Processing is Pending
July 15, 2004

With the worst delays in recent history affecting the processing of all types of immigration filings, applicants are often left wondering what they are paying for when submitting their money orders or checks for substantial amounts, payable to “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.” Unfortunately, extensive delays are fast becoming the norm, with the processing of Advance Parole Travel Documents as one example.

For most individuals temporarily living in the U.S. but seeking to travel outside the U.S. while their applications for permanent residence (I-485) remain pending, an Advance Parole Travel Document will be required to gain re-entry into the U.S. Of course, not all permanent resident applicants are eligible to receive such a document due to their previous unlawful (overstay) or undocumented status prior to submitting their I-485. But those who qualify for advance parole (with the filing of Form I-131) are now being plagued by processing times of 6 months or more.

What is the source of the problem?

Most applicants’ eligibility for permanent residence in the U.S. is based on a family relationship and many such applicants are having their filings processed, at least at initial stages, at CIS’ National Benefits Center located in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, including Form I-131 advance parole applications. Applicants in the Chicago area, for example, file their I-485, I-131 and I-765 applications with CIS Chicago’s post office box, however, the filings are then immediately forwarded to the National Benefits Center for further processing. And unfortunately, “further processing” these days tends to mean a wait of 6 months or more.

The National Benefits Center will no doubt eventually address their inefficiencies with more realistic staffing levels and better training, but in the meantime what’s an applicant to do?

Go to your local CIS office and ask for help. Here in Chicago, applicants with advance parole applications pending more than 90 days are being accommodated, with advance parole documents getting issued within 7 days of their visit. Further, applicants with urgent travel needs do not even have to wait 90 days to make the visit, as long as documentation establishing the urgency can be presented.

Similarly, applicants for employment authorization whose I-765’s have been pending for more than 90 days are also being accommodated (by law), with the issuance of interim employment authorizations on the same day of the visit.

Copyright © 2004-2008, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois