Positive Changes for Green Card Applicants: A New Dawn for AOS Filers

Green card applicants have always had to walk a delicate line during the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process, especially concerning the limitations on international travel. AOS filers have previously been unable to travel abroad without an Advance Parole, a stipulation that was added during the Trump Administration and posed significant challenges to applicants wishing to visit their home countries. Today, we bring you a beacon of hope as potential policy changes loom on the horizon.

Understanding the Impact of Advance Parole

Under the current rule, if AOS applicants travel outside the U.S. without obtaining an Advance Parole, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers their application abandoned, resulting in a waste of time, money, and a need to restart the green card process from scratch. The mere AOS filing fee is $1,225, and that’s just one aspect of the total cost.

Moreover, acquiring Advance Parole can be an arduous process. Waits for approval have extended to 9, 10, and in some cases, beyond 24 months. The policy has had severe implications for AOS applicants, preventing them from visiting sick relatives or attending important family events abroad. Fortunately, these heart-wrenching scenarios may soon be a thing of the past due to proposed changes by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Elimination of the Advance Parole: A Step Forward

It’s difficult to comprehend why international travel would equate to abandoning a green card application. It seems the DHS shares this view as they propose to eliminate the Advance Parole requirement for individuals with pending AOS and end the automatic AOS abandonment rule for international travel.

The USCIS Ombudsman advocated this change in their 2022 report, aiming to reduce wrongful outcomes, increase USCIS’s efficiency, and alleviate applicants’ frustrations. This change, if implemented, will allow clients the freedom to travel without jeopardizing their AOS application.

The Return of 90-Day Processing for Advance Parole and EAD

In addition to the elimination of the Advance Parole, the DHS also proposed reinstating the 90-day processing guideline for Advance Parole and Employment Authorization Documents (EADs). This change will greatly expedite the processing times and minimize the uncertainty experienced by applicants.

However, since the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on May 11, 2023, USCIS has stopped issuing the dual Advance Parole and EAD card. Now, separate approval cards are required for each.

A Blessing for Religious Workers

Religious workers on the path to permanent residency also received good news. The DHS proposes to allow religious workers to concurrently file their AOS applications with their I-360 visa petitions filed by their employers. This policy change, if approved, will help religious workers avoid the current prolonged waiting times and offer them the flexibility to serve where their help is most needed.

Each of these proposed changes represents a major stride in reducing unnecessary suffering and paving the way for a more efficient and humane immigration process. Green card applicants, stay tuned for these positive developments and keep faith that better days are on the horizon!

If you or your family members have any questions about how immigration and nationality laws in the United States may affect you, or if you want to access additional information about immigration and nationality laws in the United States or Canada, please don’t hesitate to contact the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can reach us by emailing info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. We also invite you to visit our website at www.visaserve.com for more information.

Ombudsman 2022 report: