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08/21/2017 - USCIS Is Denying Pending Forms I-131 for Abandonment Due to International Travel

AILA Doc. No. 17081867 | Dated August 18, 2017

AILA has received reports from members that USCIS has been denying Form I-131 advance parole applications for abandonment in instances where the applicant has traveled abroad during the pendency of the application. The pending Form I-131 application is being denied even if the applicant has a separate valid advance parole document or a valid H, K, L, or V visa to return to the United States. In the denial notification, USCIS points to the Form I-131 instructions at page 6 where it states that "[i]f you depart the United States before the Advance Parole Document is issued, your application for an Advance Parole Document will be considered abandoned." In the past, USCIS has approved advance parole renewal applications for individuals who travel abroad during the pendency of the application with a valid Advance Parole Document or a valid H, K, L, or V visa.

In response to these reports, AILA contacted the USCIS Service Center Operations Directorate (SCOPS) to determine if this change of policy was intentional. SCOPS recently responded that the denials were proper; the policy is that traveling internationally while an application for advance parole is pending will result in the denial of that application notwithstanding prior practice to the contrary.

AILA will continue to pursue this issue in liaison discussions with USCIS. In the meantime, it appears that advance parole applications will continue to be denied if an individual travels abroad while the application is pending with USCIS. Please note that for adjustment applications filed after July 30, 2007, there is no additional fee to file a new application for advance parole following the denial of an application. Applicants may wish to consider submitting a new Form I-131 application to USCIS if a pending application is denied, as well as avoiding international travel during the pendency of the advance parole application. AILA will provide an update to members on this issue as soon as more information becomes available.