You may be required to carry various types of travel documents if you wish to return to the United States lawfully after traveling aboard.
This depends on your immigration status (including lawful permanent residents) or if you have an application for an immigration benefit pending). In specific situations, you should apply for these documents before you exit the United States. USCIS provides 4 types of travel documents:
- Advance parole;
- Carrier documentation;
- Re-entry permit; and
- Refugee travel document
What is the Advance Parole card ?
Advance Parole is a type of travel document that permits you to travel back to the United States without having to apply for a visa. A transportation company (airline) may accept an advance parole document in place of accepting a visa as proof that you are authorized to travel to the United States. However, an advance parole document does not replace your passport.
Please be aware that possessing an advance parole document will not guarantee your authorization to re-enter the United States.
At the airport or border, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will make the final decision about whether to allow you to reenter the United States.
Advance parole is most commonly used when someone has a pending:
- Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal: If you are an asylum applicant and are intending to travel outside the United States and return, you must apply for and receive advance parole. If you leave the United States without first obtaining advance parole, USCIS will assume that you have abandoned your asylum application
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status: If you depart the U.S. while your Form I-485 is pending without first obtaining advance parole, USCIS will deny your case unless you fit into a narrow exception for people with certain non-immigrant status.
Carrier Documentation permits an airline or similar transportation carrier to board permanent residents who were temporarily outside of the United States and whose re-entry permit or Green Card was destroyed, lost or stolen. If you are a permanent resident in this situation, you may need to file Form 1-131A.
Those residents with permanent or conditional status should apply for a re-entry permit in the case that they will be outside of the United States for one year or more. While the re-entry permit is valid, it allows one to apply for admission to the United States without needing to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Refugee Travel Document
USCIS issues refugee travel documents to lawful permanent resident who obtained their Green Cards based on their refugee or asylee status, or to those individuals with refugee or asylum status.
You must have a refugee travel document to return to the U.S. if you:
- Are a derivative asylee or refugee; or
- Have refugee or asylee status but are not a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder)
If you do not possess a refugee travel document before leaving the U.S., it is possible that you will not be able to re-enter the United States or that you may be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge.