People with pending applications with the U.S. Citizenship and immigration services often need a "travel permit" or "advance parole" document before leaving the U.S. This will prevent applicants from having their applications deemed "abandoned" for having departed the country without asking first for permission while waiting a final decision on their applications.
Practically speaking, getting an advance parole document is not complicated: you pay the fee, fill out a form, and your travel permit is issued within a few weeks. What's complicated about this process is actually knowing if traveling outside the U.S. is in your best interest when you know you have a pending application. USCIS will gladly take your fee and issue a travel permit, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are actually eligible to travel abroad without complications. Only an attorney can give you a definite answer on whether you should--or shouldn't--travel abroad.
Some one traveling outside the U.S. on a travel permit issued by USCIS could be denied entry to the country upon return. Some of the reasons why people get stuck outside the country are the following:
- The person traveling abroad wasn't aware that he had an order of removal on his record (note that judges are not the only ones who can remove you; you can be administratively removed by DHS too);
- The person traveling abroad missed a fingerprint or interview appointment while he was outside the U.S.;
- The person traveling abroad had a criminal record (was convicted of an offense or offenses that were more serious than the person believed them to be);
- The person's application that was pending at the time he left the U.S. was denied while he was abroad--this is why the timing of applying for a travel permit is also an important thing to discuss with an attorney!;
- Upon return, CBP denies the traveler's entry to the U.S. based on an incorrect belief--yes, the federal government makes mistakes, and sometimes people are denied entry by mistake. If you get stuck at the airport, calling an attorney immediately is a good idea!
With this being said, traveling outside the U.S. is sometimes a necessity or an emergency for many people, but before you step outside the country, consult with an immigration attorney on how to avoid any complications that could prevent you from returning to the U.S.
Shirley C. Zambrano