If you have filed for an immigration benefit, an adjustment of status, or have applied for a green card, it is important to stay in the US until a decision is made in your case. If you leave the US, the US government will automatically assume that you are abandoning your application, so you will not get the green card or status you applied for. You may even not be admitted back into the US. If you must leave the US while an immigration petition is pending, you must secure an advance parole document before you travel. This will protect your application and show that you do not intend to abandon your application.
The advance parole document allows you to travel internationally for short periods of time. It is important to secure this document before you leave the country. As soon as you leave the US, your USCIS petitions can be deemed invalid and you may have trouble re-entering the US. The advance parole document cannot be sent outside the US, and you need this document even if you only plan on entering Canada, Mexico, or a US territory.
To apply for an advance parole document, you will need to file Form I-131 and pay a filing fee of $360 as well as biometrics fee. You can file Form I-131 separately or with your green card application if you know you will be traveling while your green card application is pending. Keep in mind that it can take up to a year and a half to secure a green card. During that period you may need to travel for business or for family reasons, so securing an advance parole document can be a savvy way to ensure that you can travel if you need to. In most cases, the advance parole document is sent about three months after you apply, although this time can vary. You can pay an additional fee to expedite the filing process for an advance parole document if there is a valid emergency that requires you to travel.
Even though an advance parole document allows you to travel outside the US, it is not advisable to try to take extended trips with an advance parole document while you have USCIS petitions pending. Although an advance parole document is valid for one year and can even be renewed, it is generally advisable to spend no more than a month away from the US. You must also have a valid reason for travel, as border authorities will ask about this. In general, if you want to travel the world, it is best to wait until you have your green card. While you have USCISpetitions filing, use an advance parole document only to make important, short trips. Extended absences from the US can still affect your eligibility for some immigration benefits and petitions, so be cautious about long absences from the US.