On Tuesday, August 22, 2017, we sent this travel advisory, which affects individuals with pending I-485 adjustment of status application.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has received numerous reports that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been denying Form I-131 advance parole applications (the travel portion of the combo card) for abandonment in instances where the applicant has traveled abroad while the application is pending. The pending Form I-131 application is being denied even if the applicant has a separate valid advance parole document or a valid H, K, L, or V visa to return to the United States. In the denial notification, USCIS points to the Form I-131 instructions at page 6 where it states that “[i]f you depart the United States before the Advance Parole Document is issued, your application for an Advance Parole Document will be considered abandoned.” This is a significant departure from previous USCIS policy (for at least the last 15 years) where it has approved advance parole applications for individuals who travel abroad with a valid Advance Parole Document or a valid H, K, L, or V visa, while the I-485 application is pending.
AILA contacted the USCIS Service Center Operations Directorate (SCOPS) to determine if this change of policy was intentional. SCOPS recently responded that the denials were proper; the policy is that traveling internationally while an application for advance parole is pending will result in the denial of that application notwithstanding prior practice to the contrary. AILA is continuing to pursue this issue in liaison discussions with USCIS. In the meantime, it appears that advance parole applications will continue to be denied if an individual travels abroad while the application is pending with USCIS.
Based on these reports, it is not advisable for anyone with a pending I-485 application to travel internationally while an advance parole application is pending. If an I-131 application is denied, it is possible to submit a new application. Applicants with valid combo cards (combined work permit and travel document) may continue to travel using their combo cards.