How to Expedite the Processing of I-131 Travel Document?
Updated on 01/26/2023
Because the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must process thousands of I-131 travel document applications, the process generally takes a lot of time. Therefore, the USCIS is only able to expedite the processing of your I-131 travel document if you establish with compelling evidence that faster adjudication is warranted.
1. Purpose of an I-131 Travel Document
The purpose of filing a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, depends on the immigration category. For the most part, persons who are awaiting approval of their I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, file an I-131 form to gain advance parole, which allows reentry into the United States after traveling abroad.
Some other reasons for submitting a Form I-131 to the USCIS include refugee travel documents for refugees or asylees, and reentry permits for lawful permanent or conditional residents. Additionally, some foreign nationals use the form when they are already abroad and need an advance parole document.
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2. How long does a Form I-131 take to process?
The processing times for a Form I-131 vary. Moreover, there are several USCIS service centers that handle these applications, and each has a different processing time. Currently, the USCIS reports that their average time to evaluate a Form I-131 via regular processing ranges from 6-24 months.
If someone with a pending application needs to travel outside the United States very soon, they may be able to accelerate the USCIS processing time of their Form I-131 by requesting expedited adjudication.
3. To expedite Travel Document application
Just because a travel document applicant asks for expedited processing of their Form I-131 does not mean that they will automatically be granted it by USCIS. A requestor of expedited processing must show the USCIS that there are compelling reasons that it should be granted.
Valid reasons for expedited processing of I-131
Unlike with some applications that allow a beneficiary to pay for premium processing, to gain expedited processing of the I-131, an applicant needs to convince the USCIS that faster service is necessary. Further, these reasons should be supported by evidence.
Some examples of justifications for needing the expedited processing of a travel document include: potential severe financial loss to a person or organization, family emergency, humanitarian purposes, or an error by the USCIS.
How to request expedited processing?
In almost all cases, a speedy request for expedited processing can be made by calling the USCIS or through Ask Emma at USCIS’s website. The phone number for the USCIS Contact Center is (800) 375-5283. When calling, please say “infopass appointment”, and then you will be connected to a live representative. The TTY telephone line for those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability is (800) 767-1833.
No matter where the caller lives in the United States, calls or Ask Emma to request expedited processing are placed to the same USCIS Contact Center. Then the USCIS staff will create and forward a service request to the service center with proper jurisdiction over a particular immigration case.
Once the appropriate service center receives the request to expedite an I-131 travel document application, a USCIS adjudicator may ask the applicant for additional supporting documentation. It is important to be aware; however, that even if the expedited processing is approved, based on the telephone request to the USCIS Contact Center, and the subsequent consideration by a service center adjudicator, this does not mean that any underlying application will automatically be approved.
Decisions about approving or denying expedited processing are separate from determinations about other forms, such as the Form I-485. If a Form I-131 is accepted for expedited processing, the USCIS will take the benefit request out of date order and issue a decision (approval or denial) more quickly than the current normal processing time.
4. Emergency processing of an I-131 application for Advance Parole
If someone suddenly needs to travel outside the United States because of an emergency or severe hardship, they may be able to convince the USCIS to issue an emergency advance parole right away. However, the USCIS usually grants emergency advance parole only in the most urgent of cases. Unfortunately, no emergency refugee travel document or emergency reentry permit exists.
In order to achieve emergency advance parole, an applicant will need to call USCIS ((800) 375-5283) to schedule an appointment to meet with a USCIS adjudicator at a local USCIS field office about the Form I-131 and its accompanying evidence. Applicant needs to bring a complete I-131 form, compelling evidence and filing fee. Often the emergency advance parole will be issued on the same day as the USCIS appointment if the local USCIS officer is convinced by the accompanying evidence.
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