Everything You Need to Know about Form 131 - Application to Travel
Those individuals applying for permanent residency while in the United States, and find that they need to leave the country while waiting for approval of their Green Card, run the risk of denial of their application.
The "Adjustment of Status" process can take anywhere up to 18-months, and during this time, applicants must remain in the U.S. Individuals waiting for approval that wish to leave the U.S. must apply for advance parole.
The third form provides the applicant with permission to re-enter the United States while your application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, on Form I-485, Application, is pending approval.
Unless the applicant receives permission from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they run the risk of forfeiting their residency application, and a bar from re-entry into the United States.
Applicants should submit this form at the same time as Form I-485, helping speed the approval process.
Who needs to Apply for the Form I-485 and Form 131?
Green Card applicants awaiting adjustment of status find that approval for their application can take anywhere from 6 to 18-months, depending on the circumstances of their petition with the USCIS.
During this time, the applicant needs to spend the waiting period inside the United States. During this period, the applicant must visit biometrics centers for an appointment to capture their identifying information.
Applicants will also need to complete an interview, and comply with any requests for additional information or evidence surrounding the application.
However, there might be extenuating circumstances that force the applicant to consider international travel during the approval period.
The USCIS frowns on applicants that leave the country, but the applicant can go if they are experiencing a family emergency or some other similar situation.
Those applicants that wish to leave the U.S. during the application approval period need to file form I-485, along with the Form 131 Application to travel.
If you think there's a possibility that you might have to leave the United States during your application period, its best to file these forms when registering for your Green Card application.
Applicants must remain within the United States until they receive the approval of their Advance Parole from the USCIS in the mail.
If the applicant decides to leave the U.S. before the end of the approval period, without applying for Advance Parole, then they run the risk of denial of re-entry into the United States on their return.
It's also important to note that Form I-131 and Advance Parole is not only for adjustment of status applicants. All individuals with immigration status in the U.S. may require Advance Parole, depending on their circumstances in the country. Form I-131 also assists refugees with seeking refugee travel documents and re-entry permits.
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Advance Parole and Form 131 Don't Guarantee Re-Entry
Those applicants that secure an Advance Parole document can still receive a denial of entry at a U.S. port. The Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P.) reserves the right to deny entry to any applicant.
In the past, this situation was a particular issue for applicants with an unlawful presence in the United States exceeding 180-days. The case remains an issue for inadmissible applicants today.
However, there's some good news regarding those applicants with unlawful presence.
The Board of Immigration Appeals (B.I.A..) ruled in the Matter of Arrabally and Yerrabelly, 25 I&N Dec. 771 (B.I.A. 2012), that permanent residency applicants leaving the U.S. with Advanced Parole cannot trigger the unlawful presence bars of three and ten years. Fortunately for applicants, the USCIS went along with the B.I.A. decision.
How to Fill Out Form 131
Fortunately, most of Form 131 is self-explanatory. In this section, we'll provide applicants with guidance concerning the complexities of completing and filing the application.
A Document Checklist for filing Form 131
Filing fee – Those applicants that are waiting for approval on a pending adjustment of status case do not have to pay any fees when filing Form 131. The USCIS does not charge applicants if you send the documents through with or after you submit your I-485 application.
Passport photographs – Those applicants sending Form 131 along with Form I-765 and Form I-485, must include four passport-style pictures along with their application.
Copy of photo-identity document – Applicants must send a copy of the identification page of their passport along with their application. Those applicants who are sending Form 131 after submitting Form I-485, must include a copy of their identity documents, such as a passport identification page or driver's license.
Official USCIS Documents Displaying Current Status – If the USCIS granted you legal immigrant status in the United States, then y9ou'll need to include a copy of these documents along with your application.
Those applicants filing Form 131 after Form I-485, must include a copy of the Form I-797C, "Notice of Action," showing that the USCIS received the Form I-485 application.
General Form 131 Instructions
The best way to complete Form 131 is on a laptop or desktop computer. For those applicants writing out Form 131, use black ink, as any other color will cause the rejection of your application.
The applicant might find that Form 131 doesn't have enough space to complete answers to the form's questions. In this case, applicants must include separate pages as supporting documents. On top of each supporting sheet, make sure you write your full name and your Alien Registration Number (A-Number).
Applicants must also indicate the section and item number referring to the additional supporting documentation. Applicants must also date and sign the bottom of each sheet when submitting. If the applicant comes across any fields that they cannot answer, leave them blank, rather than filing N/A into the box.
Part 1 – Personal Information
The applicant must complete all of the details in this section, including their home address and mailing address. Applicants will also need to list their class of admission, which is available on the applicant's previous visa used to enter the U.S.
Part 2 – Application Type
Applicants can checkbox 1.d. Make sure you do not check any of the other boxes in this section.
Part 3 – Processing Information
Those applicants that already know their departure date from the United States, and how long they will remain outside of the country, can include this information in the boxes for both questions one and two.
Those applicants with no travel arrangements planned, do not have to have any concern over the issue, as the USCIS does not need to know when you plan to leave the U.S. for the purpose4s of this application. Applicants can complete "T.B.D. – To Be Determined" in this field if they have no confirmed departure date.
Question three on Form 131 asks the applicant if they are currently dealing with the process of immigration proceedings with the USCIS. Applicants will need to check the "No" box to qualify for approval of Form 131.
After completing these questions, applicants can skip to Part 7 of the application on page 4 of the document. Applicants must leave Parts 4, 5, and 6, blank for administrative purposes.
Part 4 - Application for Advance Parole
In this section, applicants must attach supporting documents to prove that they qualify for Advance Parole. Those applicants with a previous Green Card application can include an official copy of the USCIS receipt notice.
Applicants must note that when submitting this document along with the adjustment of status application, the USCIS can quickly determine the applicant's basis for eligibility.
A handy tip for applicants intending on leaving the country is to check the box for "More than one trip," in question one, even if the applicant only intends on leaving the U.S. once during the approval period.
Applicants can leave the boxes for questions 2, 3, and 4 empty, due to the application being from within the United States.
Part 8 – Signature of the Applicant
Applicants must ensure they date and sign the application, and ensure that they provide the necessary contact details where the USCIS can reach them during the approval process. The USCIS does not accept unsigned documents, and they will reject your unsigned application outright.
Part 9 – Information of Third-Party Applications
This section is only valid if the applicant required the use of an interpreter or third-party, such as an immigration attorney, when completing the application. Those applicants that are not using these services may leave this section blank.
Applicants must make a copy of the entire application for their records. After completing and copying your application, send it to the correct address available on the USCIS website for FORM 131 requests.
The mailing address depends on whether you are mailing your application with or without the inclusion of Form I-485. For those applicants filing with Form I-485, the mailing address depends on the USCIS office handling the application.
Applicants can discover this office by looking at the receipt number on Form I-797C, which they got when filing Form I-485. Those applicants requiring assistance with filing form I-131 should seek out a qualified immigration attorney working for a reputable law firm. The attorney should also have a solid track record with obtaining adjustment of status, permanent resident status, and all additional information and processes involved with handling Form I-131 applications.
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