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USCIS to Issue Dual Purpose Work-Travel Cards for Pending Green Card Cases

USCIS announced on February 11, 2011 that it will begin issuing dual purpose work-travel cards to applicants for adjustment of status (AOS). Currently, applicants for AOS pay one filing fee for adjustment to permanent residence status (green card), a separate work permit and a separate advance parole travel document while the AOS application (Form I485) is pending. A regulation states that anyone seeking to travel while AOS is pending will abandon that application if advance parole is not obtained first. The exception is for persons with valid H-1B and L-1 petitions and visas entering to resume employment that is the subject of their approved petitions. Typically, work permits and advance parole documents are issued in one-year increments. The work permit comes on a plastic card with security features while the advance parole comes on a sheet of paper with a photo and other security features. Sometimes one or more extensions are required necessitating additional filing fees. This can also occur in categories where the quota retrogresses after the AOS is filed or in jurisdictions where processing times are lengthy or for other adjudication delays or investigations. A new card with improved security features will be issued indicating work authorization. It will be endorsed to say “Serves as I512 advance parole.”

Not everyone is eligible for advance parole, however. People in the U.S. unlawfully who accumulate unlawful presence and make a trip abroad after six months of unlawful presence will trigger the three or 10-year bar to re-entry. An additional waiver application will be needed to re-enter earlier than that. The AOS applicant could be stuck outside waiting for the waiver to be approved. Therefore, applicants should seek legal advice about eligibility for advance parole and before traveling abroad. Individual work permits and advance parole will still be issued as needed.