When applying for a green card via the adjustment of status process in the US, you are eligible to apply for work authorization which will allow you to legally work in the US while you are waiting for your green card to be approved.
The filing fee for the application for work authorization or Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is waived when it is applied for in connection with a green card application.
Work authorization generally arrives within 3.5 months after submitting the green card through application. If you are in the US in another nonimmigrant employment authorized status, such as the H-1B visa status or L-1 visa status, and you have maintained your status, you may not find it necessary to apply for work authorization. You should discuss this with your attorney.
Advance Parole Travel Authorization
Advance parole allows you to travel outside of the U.S. while your marriage green card adjustment of status application is pending.
If you travel outside of the U.S. while your application is pending before receiving advance parole, you will have abandoned your application, unless you are in H-1B or L-1 status and you return to the U.S. using an H-1B or L-1 visa stamp. Advance parole generally takes up to approximately 3.5 months to receive.
You should be aware that if you do use advance parole to re-enter the U.S. after a trip abroad, you will be treated as an “arriving alien”. This can be problematic if you have any issues with your application. The safe approach is to not use advance parole, except in emergency situations, and even then you must be certain that you do not have any unlawful presence or overstay issues.
Like the work authorization application, the advance parole application filing fee is waived if applied for in connection with a green card application.
*If you are eligible for advance parole and you travel outside of the US after it arrives, you MUST present the advance parole card (or combo card as described below) upon your re-entry to the US along with your passport. Failure to do so could result in the denial of your green card application and other severe consequences. Furthermore, you should expect to be delayed at customs and brought to a “secondary screening room” when using advance parole. This is important to note if you have a connecting flight or you are going through pre-flight clearance.*
Work Authorization & Advance Parole Q & A
What do the documents authorizing employment and advance parole travel look like?
The work authorization and advance parole are now issued on one card, known as a “combo” card. If you apply for both work authorization and advance parole and you are approved for both, you will receive one card granting you authorization to both work in the US and travel while your application is pending.
What if I only applied for work authorization or I was only approved for work authorization and not advance parole? Can I still use the work authorization card to travel?
If you were only approved for work authorization, you CANNOT use the card to travel outside of the US. The card will only be valid for working in the US and not traveling outside of the US.
Can I apply for a social security number after I’m approved for work authorization?
Yes, you can apply for a social security number after being approved for work authorization at your local social security office. See the following page to locate a social security office: Social Security Office Locator. You can now also apply for a social security card on the work authorization application.
How do I know if my card is valid for advance parole travel as well as work authorization?
If the card is also valid for advance parole travel, in addition to work authorization, it will state “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole” on the bottom of the front of the card. Remember, if you did not submit a separate application for advance parole or you were not approved for advance parole, your card will not state this language and therefor you cannot use the card to travel internationally.
Has there always been a “combo” card for work authorization and advance parole in connection with the adjustment of status process?
No, prior to February 2011, USCIS would issue a work authorization card and a separate 8.5 x 11 document for advance parole. In February 2011, USCIS decided to join the two benefits on one “combo” card.
I have work authorization in connection with the F-1 status. Is it possible that this card is valid for advance parole as well?
No. Advance parole applies to someone who is applying for a green card through the adjustment of status process. The combo work authorization and advance parole card is only issued in connection with the green card adjustment of status process.
How long does it typically take to receive the work authorization and advance parole combo card?
It typically takes approximately 3.5 months for the card to arrive.
Will this time period change if I only apply for work authorization or advance parole?
No, this time period will remain the same.
What happens if I travel outside of the US without advance parole while my green card application is pending?
If you travel outside of the US while your green card application is pending before advance parole arrives and you are not seeking to re-enter the US in the H-1B or L-1 status, you will be deemed to have abandoned your green card application. That means your application will be denied and you will lose all associated fees. You may also not be able to get back in to the US or if you do, you could be put in removal proceedings. In other words, it’s a complete mess that leads to all sorts of complicated issues.
Can I travel outside of the US after submitting my adjustment of status application, but before I’m approved for advance parole, and then return to the US only after my advance parole is approved after having a friend or family member courier the card to me abroad?
NO!!! You can only leave the US after your advance parole is approved. If you leave the US before your advance parole is approved, regardless of whether or not you wait for it to be approved before returning, your application will be deemed abandoned and denied.
What if an emergency need to travel comes up while I’m waiting for the advance parole to be approved?
If a family, medical or business emergency arises while you’re waiting for your work authorization and advance parole combo card to be approved, you may be able to obtain “emergency advance parole” from your local USCIS office.
To apply for emergency advance parole, you’d need to make an “infopass” appointment with your local USCIS office and present evidence of the emergent circumstances requiring you to travel outside of the US immediately.
The granting of emergency advance parole is discretionary and different local offices and officers have different views on the matter. For example, some local offices have a very liberal stance and will provide emergency advance parole for a wide variety of business, medical and family emergencies, whereas other offices are very strict and will provide for only the most extreme of emergencies.