Travel Outside the U.S. during the Permanent Residency Process
We prefer that you and your dependents maintain valid H-1B, H-4, O-1, and O-3 visa status during the permanent residency process. It is important to note, though, that once you have filed form I-485 to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident, H and O visa status holders have differing options when traveling and re-entering the U.S. On the one hand, those in H status (H-1B and H4), may either re-enter by presenting proof of employment and corresponding valid I-797 Approval Notice and H entry visa or by presenting I-131 Advance Parole documents. On the other hand, those in O status (O-1 and O-3) may only re-enter by presenting I-131 Advance Parole documents.
Documents needed for an I-131 Advance Parole Document:
- Form I-797 filing fee receipt from your I-485 Adjustment of Status application
- Form I-131 Advance Parole travel document (I-131 in Forms tab at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis)
Advance parole, unlike entry visas from individual countries, is valid for multiple entries during a one year period. It is renewable.
Those in H-1B or H4 visa status may request advance parole concurrently with the I-485 or at a later date; those in O-1 or O-3 visa status do not have this option and must request advance parole at the time of filing the I-485. It is a good idea to file the I-131 along with the I-485 as USCIS is taking approximately 12 weeks to issue the advance parole travel documents. Since advance parole must be obtained prior to leaving the U.S., the long processing time could preclude the use of advance parole should the need to depart the U.S. suddenly arise.
After re-entering the U.S. on advance parole, you may continue to be employed during the validity of your H-1B/O-1 petition while your adjustment of status is pending. If your H-1B/O-1 status has lapsed, you may use a USCIS-issued Employment Authorization Card instead. However, it is good practice to maintain your H-1B/O-1 status as a “safety net” in the rare instance your adjustment of status application is denied.
As a special note for H-1B visa status holders, you may enter the U.S. using an I-131 Advance Parole and still be able to extend your H-1B if you have time left within the normal six year limit. In addition, if your labor certification or immigrant petition was filed 365 days in advance of the end of the 6th year of H-1B status, your H-1B can be extended annually until your permanent residence is granted. If the H-1B extension application is approved, it will have the effect of terminating the grant of parole and admitting you back into H-1B status.