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USCIS Indicates Changes to Advance Parole Policy

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.

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About this Author

Leigh N. Ganchan, Ogletree Deakins, I9 Immigration Lawyer, EVerify compliance attorney

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 enforcement side of immigration law during her...

Melissa Manna, Ogletree Deakins Law Firm, Raleigh, Immigration Practice Group Writer
Immigration Practice Group Writer

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 implemented risk management solutions, and closed transactions valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Before TowerCo, she was an attorney with Alan Gordon Immigration and Naturalization Law in Charlotte, NC, representing large and small companies, investors, entrepreneurs, and families in all stages of the immigration process. She regularly appeared before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to advocate on behalf of clients, as well as the EOIR Immigration Court in Atlanta to defend clients against removal and deportation.

Melissa received her J.D. from Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law and her B.A. in Journalism from The College of New Jersey. She is licensed by the North Carolina Bar.