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USCIS Indicates Changes to Advance Parole Policy

Authors: Leigh N. Ganchan (Houston), Melissa Manna (Raleigh)

Published Date: November 26, 2018

On November 16, 2018, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna suggested that USCIS will discontinue its policy of denying certain pending I-131, Application for Travel Document applications when an applicant travels internationally. Cissna’s comments came during the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman’s Annual Conference. He gave no indication about when the change was likely to be implemented, but he did suggest that the new policy is forthcoming.

The instructions for Form I-131 currently advise applicants that their applications for advance parole documents will be considered abandoned if the applicant departs the United States before his or her travel document is issued. Prior USCIS policy exempted adjustment of status applicants who continued to maintain valid H or L nonimmigrant status from this advance parole abandonment dilemma. However, in the last two years, the change to this exemption produced a spike in the number of I-131 denials, inevitably binding H and L visa professionals, who often must travel for business, to a three- to six-month stay in the United States to obtain the travel document. There are only a few remedies to rely on when an application is denied on the basis of abandonment, including using a previously issued, unexpired advance parole document or nonimmigrant visa, or applying for a new visa at a U.S. consulate, to reenter the United States. A return to the prior USCIS exemption policy would bring practical relief to H and L visa travelers and their employers.

Ogletree Deakins’ Immigration Practice Group will continue to monitor developments with respect to changes to this policy and will post updates on the Immigration blog as additional information becomes available.

Leigh N. Ganchan  (Houston)

Leigh N. Ganchan
Ms. Ganchan provides business immigration advice to employers and professionals in a variety of industries. Ms. Ganchan is certified in Immigration and Nationality law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Ms. Ganchan is listed as a "notable practitioner" in Chambers USA rankings and has a "healthy reputation in the market" advising professionals and employers on various immigration matters, including I-9 and E-Verify compliance. From 1996 to 1999, Ms. Ganchan gained insight into the...

Melissa Manna  (Raleigh)

Melissa Manna
Melissa Manna is an Immigration Practice Group Writer. Her primary focus is writing and editing legal articles relating to immigration for the firm’s online and print publications, websites, and newsletters. Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Melissa spent 9 years as in-house counsel at TowerCo, one of the largest independent wireless tower companies in the U.S., representing the company in all aspects of commercial real estate. During that time she managed due diligence, advised and...