This alert applies to you only if you are in H-1B, H-4, L-1 or L-2 status and you are applying for “adjustment of status” in the United States.
If you have been approved to immigrate (approved PERM or approved Form I-140) and are applying for “adjustment of status” (Form I-485 and related forms), we will typically apply for a travel document called an “advance parole” at the same time (Form I-131). This document allows you to enter the U.S. without a visa.
If you are holding H-1B, H-4, L-1 or L-2 status at the time you apply for adjustment of status, the rule has been that you can travel during your adjustment of status without the advance parole being issued. In other words, unlike other visa categories, travel before the advance parole is issued will not “abandon” your adjustment of status. You can re-enter on the H or L visa and the government will continue to process your adjustment of status application.
Recently, immigration lawyers have reported that applications for advance parole are being denied if a person has traveled using an H or L visa while the advance parole application is pending. In other words, the adjustment of status stays in place and continues to be processed, but the advance parole is denied.
Obviously, this interpretation negates the benefit of being able to use the H or L visa for travel. Because executives and others whose jobs involve frequent travel cannot wait for the issuance of advance parole, which often takes 60 – 90 days, this policy makes it more difficult to maintain immigration status.
If you are in H or L status and applying for adjustment of status, please be sure to share your travel plans with us so that we can help find the best strategy for you considering this new interpretation.