New Regulation on Advance Parole Processing
February 13, 2019
Article by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
February 13, 2019
As a result of a recommendation issued by the Ombudsman’s  office, travel on a valid advance parole will not invalidate a pending renewal advance parole application (I-131, Application for Travel Document). The Ombudsman learned that, in some instances, USCIS was denying applications to renew advance parole applications to applicants who were traveling outside the United States on valid advance parole documents. When the applicants returned, they received notice from USCIS that their requests for renewals had been denied. The denials were the result of the official parole application instructions which state that “if you leave the US during the pendency of the application you will be deemed to have abandoned it.” However, USCIS had not previously denied advance parole applications in these situations but began to do so. The Ombudsman investigated the change in adjudication by USCIS and discovered that USCIS adjudicators were now consistently using the information from the Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS), and could actually now identify those filing advance parole applications who then depart, triggering the denials.
There were practical implications to the new practice of denying these renewals for advance parole. Applicants were inconvenienced, and would again file their parole application resulting in the re-filing of thousands of advance parole applications. Therefore, USCIS was expending substantial resources to deny and re-adjudicate parole applications. In order to remedy these problems, a collaborative effort between the Ombudsman office and USCIS resulted in a change in policy regarding the renewal of I-131 applications. The new policy now states that a pending Form I-131 will not be considered abandoned when an individual travels on an approved advance parole document, provided the document they are traveling with is valid for the entire duration of their time abroad.
 The Ombudsman is charged by statute to identify systemic problems in that agency’s delivery of immigration benefits and make specific recommendations on how USCIS should address them.