What documents do I need to travel outside the United States?
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, is used to apply for three different types of travel documents:
--o Advance Parole
--o Refugee Travel Document
--o Re-Entry Permit
WARNING: If you have been in the United States illegally, then you may be subject to a bar to admission if you depart the United States, even if you have been issued a travel document. For more information please see Section 212(a)(9) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If you are an asylee who applied for asylum on or after April 1, 1997, then your asylum status may be terminated if you return to the country from which you were seeking protection.
Advance parole is issued solely to authorize the temporary parole of a person into the United States. The document may be accepted by a transportation company (airlines) instead of a visa as an authorization to travel to the United States. Please note that an advance parole document does not replace your passport.
Advance parole is most commonly used when someone has Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, pending. If you depart the U.S. while your I-485 application is pending without first obtaining advance parole, your case will be denied unless you fit into a narrow exception for those maintaining certain nonimmigrant statuses.
Advance Parole for Asylees
An asylum applicant who has a pending Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and has not received a final decision may be allowed to travel outside the United States. If you are an asylum applicant and you intend to travel outside the United States and return you must apply for and receive advance parole. If you leave the United States without first obtaining advance parole, USCIS will presume you abandoned your asylum application.
Advance parole does not guarantee that you will be allowed to reenter the United States, rather, an immigration inspector from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must inspect you and determine whether you will be allowed to reenter the United States.
Refugee Travel Document
A refugee travel document is issued to a person who has been granted refugee or asylum status, or to a permanent resident who obtained a green card because they were a refugee or asylee. If you hold refugee or asylee status and are not a permanent resident, you must have a refugee travel document to return to the United States.
Derivative asylees and refugees must also obtain a refugee travel document before leaving the United States. If you do not obtain a refugee travel document in advance of departure, you may be unable to re-enter the United States, or you may be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.
A re-entry permit allows a permanent resident or conditional resident to apply for admission to the U.S. upon returning from abroad during the permit’s validity, without having to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or consulate. Permanent or conditional residents should apply for a re-entry permit if they will be outside the United States for one year or more.
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NOTE: The above information does not address the specific requirements for any given case and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.