bigstock-Immigrant-Families-On-The-Marc-5038074If you’re an immigrant in the United States applying for a green card, it’s a good idea not to leave the country – unless you have to – while your application is being processed. Immigration authorities may determine that you have abandoned your green card application in mid-process. However, it’s a prolonged process – 9 to 12 months – so if you must take a short trip outside the U.S., be sure to apply for and obtain an Advance Parole Document (also called a “Travel Document”).

You are not required to have the Advance Parole Document in order to leave the country, but without it you might not be allowed back in. The Advance Parole Document is designed for brief trips outside the country such as weddings, funerals, or short business trips. If you know the details of your trip, apply for the Advance Parole Document as early as possible by completing and filing Form I-131, the Application for Travel Document.

You may complete and file Form I-131 along with your green card application. The application fee for Form I-131 is $360. An added biometric (fingerprinting) fee of $85 may also be charged. Processing time varies but may take up to 90 days. For legitimate reasons like a death in the family, the process can be accelerated for an additional fee. An Advance Parole Document is good for a year. Try not to be out of the U.S. longer than a month, however; that’s the maximum stretch of time you should be overseas while your green card application undergoes processing.

If you are an immigrant with any questions or concerns regarding your status, visa, green card application, or any other legal matter, speak at once to an experienced immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can help you and your family with any immigration issue you face and defend you if you’re accused of violating immigration law.

He or she will review your forms and applications for thoroughness and accuracy. Immigration laws will continually change, but an experienced immigration attorney will always be able to give you the legal advice you need. For help with any aspect of immigration law, don’t hesitate to contact a good immigration lawyer right away.