By Maria Schneider

During the annual Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) Ombudsman Conference, USCIS Director, Francis Cissna, stated it is the USCIS’s intention to end the practice of denying pending Advanced Parole applications (travel permits) in situations where the applicant travels overseas while the travel permit application is pending.

The USCIS has recently updated the “special instructions” section of their website regarding travel permits indicating individuals may travel when they have a pending travel permit application pending, provided they also have an approved travel permit that is valid for the entire time the individual is abroad. The pending travel permit will not be considered abandoned and so will not be denied in this situation.

The USCIS website does not state that this change in policy applies to foreign nationals who travel abroad with a valid H or L visa. Non-immigrant intent is required for most visas, with a noted exception for those holding H-1B or L-1 status. Because of this exception, those traveling on H-1B or L-1 while their green cards are pending do not need a travel permit.
Travel permit applications are made most commonly when an individual applies for a green card. At the time the green card application is filed, an application for a work and travel permit is also filed. Unless the green card applicant holds H or L status, the green card applicant should not travel abroad until the travel permit is issued. Traveling abroad without a valid travel permit while a green card application is pending will cause the denial of the green card application for abandonment.