What's New in the World of Immigration?

11/19/2018 - An End in Sight: No More I-131 Denials after International Travel

This past year, USCIS initiated a confusing and controversial policy of denying pending I-131 Applications due to "abandonment" when the applicant traveled internationally. This was the case even for applicants who had other valid means of reentering the USA, such as a current I-131 travel document or valid visa.

Thankfully, USCIS has vouched to end this practice, a move we have all been eagerly anticipating.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), a national association of Immigration Attorneys who have been fighting to end this and other disturbing USCIS policies, provides the below update:

AILA Doc. No. 17081867 | Dated November 19, 2018

On November 16, 2018, during the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman Annual Conference, USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna spoke briefly on the USCIS policy to deny pending Forms I-131, Application for Travel Document when an applicant travels overseas. Based on feedback from the CIS Ombudsman and other stakeholders, Director Cissna indicated that USCIS will end the practice of denying pending I-131 applications when an applicant travels overseas. Though he did not provide a timeline for this change, he indicated that policy on this would be forthcoming.

AILA submitted comments to USCIS on October 15, 2018, requesting, among other things, that USCIS remove language from the Form I-131 instructions that considers an application for advance parole document abandoned if the applicant departs the U.S. before the document is issued, or at a minimum, that USCIS restore a prior policy exempting applicants who travel on valid nonimmigrant visas or approved advance parole travel documents from the abandonment policy. It is unclear whether USCIS will alter its policy yet again, or simply restore its prior policy. AILA will continue to provide updates on this development.