U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that it is now issuing a single, dual-purpose card combining the employment authorization document (EAD) and advance parole travel authorization (AP) for certain applicants who have pending family- or employment-based adjustment of status applications (Form I-485). This is welcome news and a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing the two documents separately - often at different times. For many adjustment applicants, the inability to plan travel abroad during the pendency of their advance parole application produces great consternation. Now, adjustment applicants can plan travel with more predictability because issuance of the new card presumably will be governed by the 90-day regulatory period for employment authorization documents (EADs). Under current regulations, EADs must be issued within 90 days from the time of filing, but no corresponding regulation mandates the issuance of advance parole.
Under this new policy, applicants may receive the combined card when they file both an application for employment authorization (Form I-765) and an application for travel document (Form I-131). Both forms must be filed at the same time to receive the new card.
USCIS advises that for individual who already have an EAD and a separate travel document with a different expiration date, applicants may receive the new card ONLY IF 1) both documents have less than 120 days of validity left OR 2) if the EAD has less than 120 days of validity left and the advance parole document is for a single entry only. Those wishing to apply for the new card are advised to wait until they are within 120 days of the expiration of their current work authorization card. The validity period for the combined card will begin on the date both applications are adjudicated. The fee for the card, if applied for separately from the adjustment application, is $740. Not all applicants are eligible for the combined card, and USCIS advises that it will continue to issue separate EAD and advance parole documents as warranted.
As with the current advance parole document, obtaining a combined advance parole and employment authorization card allows an adjustment applicant to travel abroad and return to the United States without abandoning his or her pending adjustment application. Upon returning to the United States, the individual must present the card to request parole through the port-of-entry. The decision to parole the individual is made at the port-of-entry.
The new card will look similar to the current EAD but will include the text, "Serves as I-512 Advance Parole." The card is obviously more secure and more durable than the paper advance parole document currently in use.