With few exceptions, leaving the United States while a green card case is pending can be fatal to one's case. In general, departure from the United States without an advance parole document normally results in a denial of the adjustment of status petition. USCIS will determine that the individual has abandoned the application. Moreover, in some cases, if an applicant has overstayed and accrued too much "unlawful presence," he or she may trigger a three or ten-year bar from returning (depending on the length of the unlawful presence). So, in most cases, if an individual foresees that he/she will need to travel outside the US during the pendency of an adjustment of status case, advance parole should be strongly considered.
What happens, however, if an emergency arises before an advance parole can be approved? In limited circumstances, the individual may need to lodge an emergency advance parole application by visiting the local district office and filing the I-131 in person. At a minimum, USCIS instructs applicants to bring the following items:
· A completed and signed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
· I-131 Filing fee
· Evidence to support the emergency request
This may be documentation such as a death certificate, doctor's letter, medical paperwork, etc.
· Two passport-style photos
It is important to understand that these requests are granted sparingly and only for urgent, compelling reasons. Weddings, vacations, parties, and business-related meetings do not ordinarily fall within the ambit of what is considered an emergency. Additionally, given the changes with INFOPASS and transition to the Information Services Modernization Program, applicants in NJ can no longer schedule the appointments themselves online. Individuals should call the USCIS Contact Center at 1-800-375-5283 to explain the exigency and request an appointment to visit the local office.
The above is general information only and not intended as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice or in lieu of consultation with an attorney.