Navigating Emergency Travel Abroad: A Guide for Noncitizens

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Navigating Emergency Travel Abroad: A Guide for Noncitizens

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Life is unpredictable, and emergencies can arise at any moment. For noncitizens in the U.S. who don’t have a green card or a valid visa, traveling abroad during an emergency can be particularly complex. However, there is a mechanism in place called “advance parole” that allows certain noncitizens to leave the country temporarily and return without jeopardizing their pending immigration process or status.

What is Advance Parole?

Advance parole is a travel document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows noncitizens to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad. Essentially, it is permission to re-enter the U.S. and resume processing of a pending immigration application or temporary status.

Who Can Get Advance Parole?

Noncitizens who can apply for advance parole typically include:

– Applicants for adjustment of status (those applying for a green card from within the U.S.)

– Beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

– Individuals with Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

Steps to Request Advance Parole

Applicants for advance parole have to file the I-131, Application for Travel Document. Where there is an emergency, the process to expedite the case looks a little different depending on whether or not the I-131 has already been filed.

If the I-131 has NOT yet been filed, you can call the I-800 number for USCIS or request an appointment online at a local USCIS office. Generally, an officer will call you back for more information and then decide whether to schedule you for an appointment. If the appointment is scheduled, you will be instructed to bring the completed I-131 form, payment and evidence to the appointment.

If the I-131 has been filed and is pending, you can call the I-800 number or send a secure message through your online account to request expedited processing.

In either case, you will need evidence to demonstrate the critical need to travel. So, for example, if you have a family member that was in an accident or is very sick, you will need a letter from their doctor or medical records that explain the severity of the illness. You may also need birth certificates to prove the family relationship.


Emergencies are stressful and navigating U.S. immigration rules can add to the strain. Advance parole provides a good option for some people. However, because traveling outside the U.S. can have major consequences on a noncitizen’s immigration case, it is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney prior to leaving.

If you have any questions or need assistance with your advance parole application, please reach out to our office. We are here to help!

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