If you wish to work and reside in the United States permanently, you can obtain citizenship in the long run to make the U.S your home. The first step would be to apply for a Green card or Permanent esidence. The Permanent resident card is an identification document to prove your legal immigration status in the country. In order to apply for a Green card, you must complete and file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the USCIS office in your region. The process is a lengthy one and it may takes months for you from the time of application to receiving your Green card.
If you have filed for your Application for the Permanent Resident Card, Form I-485 with the USCIS and wondering if you can travel internationally during the time it takes for the process to complete, the answer is yes, you may travel, provided you obtain a document called the Advance Parole from the USCIS before you leave the country. This document allows you to re-enter the country without hassle after your travel, and also allows process of your Green card application. If you leave the country without obtaining Advance Parole, the USCIS will consider your application for Permanent Resident Card to be abandoned.
How to apply for Advance Parole
You can complete and file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, available free of cost at the USCIS website and mail it to the nearest USCIS office to request for the Advance Parole Document. Along with the completed and signed Form I-131, the application packet must contain:
An explanation for the circumstances which require you to apply for the Advance Parole.
A copy of a photo identity document (Driver’s License, EAD) with your name, photograph and date of birth.
Copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action that shows your application for Green card has been accepted for processing by the USCIS.
Two passport style color photographs that must be identical.
USCIS filing fees for Form I-131.
Emergency Expedite Request
In case of emergencies, like a death in the family or any serious illness of loved ones, the USCIS may grant an Expedited Advance Parole Document. The process is a difficult one and you may be denied an Advance Parole, regardless of your emergency. If you are filing for an Emergency Advance Parole, you may do so at your local USCIS office, after obtaining an InfoPass appointment.
Whether you have a planned travel or an emergency that takes you out of the country, keep in mind that you have to be physically present in the United States to attend the biometric appointment and the Green card interview process. Failure to do so will result in your application getting denied and you will have to start the process all over.
Plan well ahead if you want to visit your family abroad, or if you are planning a vacation or if you have any business trips overseas and obtain the Advance Parole document well in advance from the USCIS. You can also apply for the Advance Parole along with the Application for Green card, Form I-485, in which case there is no separate fee for the Travel Document Application. It takes approximately 90 days for the USCIS to issue the Advance Parole document, so it is best that you apply well ahead.