Application for Travel Documents

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Advance Parole: Navigating the Application for Travel Documents

Navigating the complexities of travel documents such as Advance Parole, Reentry Permit, and Refugee Travel Documents can be daunting if you're in the process of adjusting your status or applying for an immigrant visa. Whether you're a noncitizen with a pending Form I-485, a DACA recipient, or applying for an I-131 travel document, understanding the intricacies of USCIS travel documents is crucial for lawful re-entry to the U.S. after traveling abroad. These documents ensure you do not nullify your ongoing applications, providing a safeguard for your immigration journey.

The step-by-step application process for obtaining your Advance Parole or other necessary travel documents, understanding the Advance Parole processing time, and learning how to request emergency Advance Parole are essential parts of your preparation for international travel. Not only will this article guide you through determining which travel document suits your situation, but it will also offer insights into managing emergencies and expediting requests efficiently. Preparing well can significantly streamline your travel experience, allowing you to travel with Advance Parole worry-free.

Understanding Different Types of Travel Documents

Navigating the landscape of travel documents is essential for ensuring your ability to travel outside the U.S. and return without jeopardizing your immigration status. Here's a breakdown of the key travel documents you might need:

  • Advance Parole (AP): Essential for noncitizens who wish to return to the U.S. after temporary travel abroad. This document is particularly crucial for individuals with pending applications such as Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) or Form I-589 (Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal).
  • Reentry Permit: Designed for permanent or conditional residents planning to be outside the U.S. for one year or more. It's valid for up to two years and cannot be extended, making it vital for those who need to travel but intend to maintain their residency status.
  • Refugee Travel Document: Necessary for individuals with refugee or asylum status, including those who have received a green card through such status. Valid for one year, this document cannot be extended and is required for lawful reentry to the U.S. after traveling abroad.

Each of these documents serves a specific purpose based on your immigration status and travel needs. Applying for the correct document using Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, is a critical step in safeguarding your ability to travel internationally and return to the U.S. without issue.

Determining Which Travel Document You Need

Determining which travel document you need involves understanding your eligibility and the purpose of your travel. Here's a breakdown to guide you through the selection process:

  • Eligibility Categories:
    • Adjustment of Status Applicants: If you're in the process of adjusting your status, Advance Parole is necessary for re-entry to the U.S. after traveling abroad.
    • Asylum Applicants and TPS Recipients: Eligible for Advance Parole with specific restrictions, especially avoiding travel to the country of claimed persecution.
    • DACA Recipients: Can apply for Advance Parole for humanitarian, educational, or work purposes. It's crucial to document the purpose of your travel meticulously.
  • Application Process: Use Form I-131 to apply for your travel document through USCIS. This form is your key to requesting Advance Parole, Re-entry Permit, or a Refugee Travel Document.
  • Precautions and Preparations: Before traveling, research the required documents for each country on your itinerary. Visit for up-to-date information on travel warnings and restrictions. Ensure your travel tickets match the name on your passport or official ID precisely to avoid any issues during your journey.

Remember, choosing the correct travel document is crucial for maintaining your immigration status and ensuring a smooth travel experience.

Step-by-Step Application Process for Travel Documents

To effectively navigate the application process for Advance Parole and other travel documents, follow these step-by-step instructions:

  • Filing Form I-131 with USCIS: Begin by downloading or completing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, online at the USCIS website. Ensure the edition date is visible at the bottom of all pages and that all pages are from the same form edition. If any field does not apply to you, clearly write 'N/A' instead of leaving it blank. This helps avoid processing delays due to incomplete information. Each applicant must file a separate application, even if they are part of the same family or case.
  • Submission and Biometrics Appointment: After submitting Form I-131, along with the required documents and the current USCIS filing fee, await the USCIS Receipt Notice. This usually arrives within 3 to 5 weeks. USCIS will then send a Biometrics Appointment Notice, generally 4-6 weeks after filing. Attend the biometrics appointment at your local Application Support Center (ASC) as instructed. Biometrics are typically obtained within four to five weeks after submission.
  • Renewal and Travel Precautions: If planning to travel after your current document expires, submit a renewal application well in advance. Include a copy of your current travel document, the receipt notice from your green card application, and two passport-sized photos. Make arrangements to be alerted of any USCIS notices sent while you are abroad to avoid missing critical updates. For expedited processing requests, provide a valid reason supported by evidence to avoid delays.

By carefully following these steps and ensuring all information provided is accurate and complete, you can streamline the application process for your travel document.

Processing Times and What to Expect

Understanding the processing times for your Advance Parole, re-entry permit, or refugee travel document is crucial for planning your travel accordingly. Here's a breakdown of what to expect:

  • Advance Parole Document Processing Times: Estimated processing times currently range from 6 to 18 months. However, based on 80% of completed cases in the last six months, you can expect a timeframe of approximately 7 to 16 months.
  • Re-entry Permit and Refugee Travel Document: Similar to the Advance Parole Document, processing times for both re-entry permits and refugee travel documents generally fall between 6 to 16 months, depending on USCIS workload and other factors.

Factors Influencing Processing Times:

  • USCIS Workload: The number of applications being processed at any given time can significantly impact processing times.
  • Application Completeness and Accuracy: Ensuring your application is complete and accurate can help avoid delays.
  • Requests for Additional Evidence: If USCIS requests more information, responding promptly is crucial.

Additionally, U.S. passport processing times as of December 18, 2023, are as follows:

  • Routine: 8 to 12 weeks
  • Expedited: 3 to 5 weeks
  • Urgent (with appointment and international travel within 14 days): Must apply in person

Keep in mind that mailing times are not included in these estimates, and demand for passports changes throughout the year, with higher demand from late winter into summer. Planning ahead and applying during the slower season from October through December can help avoid delays.

Dealing with Emergencies and Expedite Requests

In scenarios where an emergency arises, and you find yourself in need of expedited travel documentation, understanding how to navigate the process efficiently is crucial. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) acknowledges such urgencies by offering expedited processing for several documents, including Advance Parole, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) travel authorization, reentry permits, and refugee travel documents. This process is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, requiring solid documentation to back your request.

Steps to Request Expedited Processing:

  • Identify the Need: Determine if your situation falls under severe financial loss, emergencies, urgent humanitarian reasons, nonprofit organization interests, U.S. government interests, or clear USCIS errors.
  • Gather Documentation: Collect all necessary documents that demonstrate your urgent need. This includes a completed and signed Form I-131, evidence of the emergency, and two passport-style photos. If documents are not in English, ensure a certified English translation is included.
  • Submit Your Request: If you're facing a critical need to travel in less than 15 days, contact the USCIS Contact Center or request an appointment through My Appointment. For expedited passport applications due to life-or-death emergencies, contact the U.S. Department of State with the required documentation.

Remember, for any expedite request, providing clear, compelling evidence is key to a successful application. Always aim to submit your request at least 45 days before your intended travel date to allow adequate processing time.


Throughout this article, we have explored the crucial aspects of obtaining travel documents like Advance Parole, Reentry Permits, and Refugee Travel Documents, especially for those amidst the immigration process or holding temporary protected statuses. We emphasized the importance of selecting the appropriate document based on individual immigration status and travel purposes, ensuring a smooth process in maintaining legal status when re-entering the U.S. The application process, from determining eligibility to dealing with emergencies and submitting expedite requests, was outlined in detail to assist applicants in navigating these sometimes-complex procedures.

The broader implications of understanding and efficiently managing the application for travel documents cannot be overstated, as it directly impacts one's immigration journey and legal standing in the U.S. Ultimately, being well-prepared and informed about the nuances of these documents ensures that travelers do not face unnecessary complications or jeopardize their status. As the landscape of immigration policies continues to evolve, staying updated and seeking further guidance when necessary can greatly benefit the applicants, easing their travel experiences while preserving their rights and privileges as noncitizens or residents in the U.S.


  • What distinguishes advance parole from a travel document application? Advance parole permits a foreign national to travel overseas without forfeiting a pending application for adjustment of status, whereas a travel document ensures that a permanent resident or refugee can travel abroad without relinquishing their asylee status or residency.
  • How much time is typically needed to receive an advance parole travel document? It generally takes about 150 days, sometimes longer, to receive the travel document for advance parole after the application is submitted. Applicants should not leave the United States until they have received their approved travel document, meaning they should plan to stay in the country for approximately 3 to 5 months following their green card application submission.
  • What documentation is required when applying for advance parole? When applying for advance parole, you need to have your current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and your passport.
  • Is it possible to be denied entry into the U.S. with advance parole? Yes, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has the authority to deny entry into the U.S. to an individual with advance parole for various reasons. Holding an Advance Parole, which is applied for through Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, does not guarantee reentry into the United States.

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