What should I know when entering the U.S. on Advance Parole? What is a Secondary Inspection?

Creative Commons photo by Wilerson S. Andrade - labeled for reuse. https://www.flickr.com/photos/will_spark/8603567984

If your green card application is pending and you need to travel outside the U.S., you have to have an Advance Parole card. There are couple things you should keep in mind when entering the U.S. on your Advance Parole Card:

  • Depending on the airline, you may not be able to check in online. When doing the online check-in, most of the airlines will want you to specify whether you are coming to the U.S. on a visa, ESTA, or a green card and an advance parole may not be an option to choose. Also, if you try to input the information from the Advance Parole to the green card field option, it will not work. Therefore, the system will most likely not let you do the online check in and you will have to do the check in at the airport.
  • You should arrive to the airport early. Please note that not all airline workers are familiar with an Advance Parole card. Some of them may be used to check the traveler’s ESTA, visa, or a green card and therefore if you show them an Advance Parole Card they may be confused. If you applied simultaneously for your work and travel authorization, USCIS probably issued you a single card that is called “Employment Authorization”, and at the bottom states Serves as I-512 Advance Parole”. You should be ready to explain that your green card application is currently pending but the Advance Parole card allows you to travel in and out the U.S. In case the airline worker is still not able to check you in, you should ask to speak with a supervisor.
  • When you land in the U.S., you should have your passport, advance parole card, and your I-485 Receipt Notice handy. The CBP officer will check your Advance Parole card and your passport and will let you know that you will have to go to a Secondary Inspection. This is nothing unusual and nothing to be scared of – every time you enter the U.S. on your advance parole card, you will have to go through a secondary inspection. Secondary inspection allows the officers to conduct additional research in order to verify your information without causing delays to the other passengers. The secondary inspection officer will ask you for your passport and the advance parole card, and will then verify in the system whether your adjustment of status application is still pending. The officer will then stamp your passport and you will be ready to go. Depending on how busy the airport (and the secondary inspection room is), this process may take anywhere between 5 minutes to couple hours. You should stay calm and just keep in mind that going through the secondary inspection when entering on the advance parole is normal and nothing to be scared of.

Please see our blog post discussing when you should renew your Advance Parole if it is about to expire when you click here.

Please see our blog post on how to maintain your green card once you have it when you click here.

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