Advance Parole, Refugee Travel Document, and Reentry Permit


An individual, who is not a US citizen, may be required to obtain additional documents prior to travel abroad, even if the individual has a lawful resident card (green card). Immigration officers may deny admission into the United States if the individual has a pending adjusting status (applied for a green card but did not get it yet), was admitted before that time, and left the USA for some time.  The officer still may deny admission to the country without a specific travel document.

In general, a non-US citizen needs one of the following documents: Advance Parole, Refugee Travel Document, or Reentry Permit (consult with your attorney if you need one based on your case).

Advance Parole is a sort of emergency document, which is required if the individual has an urgent case to leave and return to the US. Urgent cases are the death of the immediate relative or family member (such as a spouse, child, parent). Birthday and wedding celebration, traveling abroad, holidays, etc. are not an emergency situation. If the individual experiences any urgent situation, the individual can apply for Advance Parole. First of all, the individual needs to contact the USCIS Contact Center and schedule an appointment at the local office. Secondly, to complete the I-131 form ( and prepare all the documents: pay the correct USCIS fee, provide any evidence to confirm the urgent situation (death certificate, medical certificate; any document, that is in a foreign language, should be translated in English. The translation should have the translator’s certification and signature. The translator must be competent and complete the accurate translation from the foreign language into English), and two passport-style photos. (Additional documents may be required based on the individual’s case, consult with your attorney). Once the individual arrives at the interview, the officer may ask him or her any questions regarding his or her urgent case, immigration status, any other details regarding the trip. After the interview, the officer may approve or deny the application, and provide his/her decision the same day. 

In general, the Advance Parole is valid for 30 days and allows the individual to return to the US without any problems. But, based on the individual’s immigration status, he/she can have problems in the future (i.e., the applicant applied for political asylum and is waiting for his/her interview. Suddenly, the applicant received a notice that his/her parent is dead in his/her country. The applicant applied and got the Advance Parole, went for his/her parent’s funeral ceremony for 10 days, came back to the US and was allowed to enter the US, and received the arrival stamp in his/her passport. At that moment the applicant is still waiting for his/her asylum interview. Four months later, the applicant received a notice about the asylum interview. The applicant went to the interview and the officer did not approve his/her asylum application. In this case, the officer should refer the asylum case to the Immigration Court, but because of the last arrival stamp (which is less than one year), the officer can close the asylum case without any further referral. Then, the applicant should apply for Asylum again from the very beginning. This is just an imaginary example, and that’s why the applicant should consult with his/her immigration attorney to verify all the details and issues about his/her case).

Refugee Travel Document are for those individuals, who have refugee or asylee status, and no permanent resident card (green card) yet. The individual needs such a document to be able to re-enter the US after travel abroad. Make sure to receive such documents before leaving the US, otherwise, the individual maybe not be allowed to re-enter the country or be placed in the immigration removal proceeding before the Immigration Judge. This document is valid for one year. To apply, the individual should prepare all the documents, fee, and submit them with form I-131 to the appropriate USCIS office:

The re-entry Permit is valid for two years. An individual who has a permanent resident card (green card) and wants to travel abroad for a year or more, should get this document prior to his/her departure. If the individual does not have the permanent resident card (green card), he/she cannot apply for the re-entry permit. To apply, use the same link above.


There is one form for all three documents. The individual should choose the exact fee, list of documents, and correctly complete form I-131 form based on his/her case and type of the document, and always consult with your attorney before submitting any documents.

*For informational use only.

Photo by CDC 


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