By NICK ABADJIAN
Its hardly as easy as "through the woods" for Queens
immigrants who want to head home for the holidays. Goverment red tape may tangle one local
couples trip to Romania, as it does for for many families.
Plans for a young couple
living in Forest Hills to visit family in Romania for Christmas are on hold due to a snag
in paperwork at the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS).
Dan Hulea may spend the holidays away from his home Romania
if a snag in paperwork at the INS isnt cleared up.
Tribune Photo By Ira Cohen
Michele and Dan Hulea bought their
plane tickets to visit Dans family in Romania. Yet they are not sure if Dan,
a Romanian National can leave the country.
The Huleas planned in advance for their
trip, but conflicting information from the INS is delaying Dan from getting the proper
travel documents on time.
"We have been jerked around one way or
another by the INS," said Michelle Hulea, an American citizen who married Dan a year
and half ago.
Its the only time that Dan, a law
student, and Michele, a sales representative at Bridal Gown magazine, can coordinate their
hectic schedules to leave for Romania.
Their flight is scheduled for Dec. 23.
THERE IS HALF THE FUN
doesnt seem like were going," said Dan. "But I still have hope."
Dan Hulea applied to travel in early
Since Dan is waiting on a pending I-485
case, commonly known as a green card, he must apply for "advanced parole,"
permission from the government to leave and re-enter the US. The application form is
called an I-131, which costs $95 and can take up to 75 days to process.
To expedite matters, the Huleas avoided the
INS New York office, which can take up hours of ones work day.
"They seem reluctant, uninterested and
abrupt in giving us information," said Dan Hulea of the INS office in New York at 26
Federal Plaza in Manhattan.
Instead they turned to the INS website, to
download the I-131 form, and called the hotline to ask simple questions.
"The information on the Internet
didnt seem really helpful," said Dan. "It was confusing and not
On two separate occasions the Huleas called
the national hotline and stated their case clearly. Both times, the person on the hotline
told them to file the I-131 form to Nebraska, which they did.
In late October, the I-131 form, was mailed
to the Huleas, requesting that they send the form to the New York office.
The Huleas, worried about the 75-day
deadline, immediately called INS office who told them to bring the form into the New York
After going in to the New York office,
"the lady [at the booth] told us this is our fault," said Michele Hulea. "I
was at a loss of words." The Huleas were then told to mail in the form.
For assistance the Huleas
contacted Councilman Anthony Weiners Office. They were turned over to assistant
Karine Voperian who immigrated from Armenia eight years ago and is the immigration expert
for the Congressmans office.
"You can call the main office in
Nebraska and you might hear another thing from the New York office," said Voperian.
"The New York office is under financed and understaffed."
On a more positive note, Voperian said that
the "INS tries to be cooperative for cases when it involves a honeymoon, a death in
the family or someone is sick."
According to Voperian, many cases like this
exist are piling up at the backlogged INS.
She said the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which called for stricter laws, increased the number
"The INS is over 40,000 cases behind
in for I-485 cases," said Fior Rodriguez of Congressman Gary Ackermans office,
who has become the immigration expert at the congressmans office.
Rodriguez said that most of the cases that
come through her office deal with immigration.
Voperian recently called the INS and faxed
a letter to help push the Huleas case through. But as of press time, all the Huleas could
do is wait.
ADVISORY FOR ALIENS WITH
PENDING IMMIGRATION APPLICATIONS
The INS urges all aliens
with pending applications for adjustment of status or change of nonimmigrant status to
consult with an immigration attorney or an immigrant assistance organization accredited by
the Board of Immigration Appeals before making any foreign travel plans.
Generally, aliens who have applied to
adjust status to that of permanent resident or change nonimmigrant status must obtain
Advance Parole from the INS before traveling abroad (see questions and answers below).
However, due to recent changes to U.S. immigration law, travel outside of the United
States may have severe consequences for certain aliens who are in the process of adjusting
their status or changing their nonimmigrant status. Such aliens may be found inadmissible,
their applications may be denied, or both.
Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, aliens who depart the United States after being
unlawfully present in the United States for certain periods can be barred from admission,
even if they have obtained Advance Parole. Those aliens unlawfully present in the United
States for more than 180 days but less than one year are inadmissible for three years;
those who are unlawfully present for a year or more are inadmissible for 10 years.
For more information, call the INS
nationwide toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283. Further information on Advance
Parole can also be found on INS web site at www.ins.usdoj.gov.
For aliens wanting to travel abroad
its important to plan well in advance. Since each case is unique travel documents
vary. Below are offices that can be of assistance.
· Your local congress members or
council members office
· Immigration and Naturalization Services
located at 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan. To bypass the office you may call their hotline
at (800) 375-5283. They also have a web site at www.ins.usdoj.gov. (Forms from the INS may
be downloaded at www.ins.usdoj.gov/graphics/formsfees/index.htm)
· The Mayors Office of Immigrant Affairs and
Language Services can be reached by phone at (212) 788-7654, or by logging on to www.ci.nyc.us/html/imm.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
What is Advance Parole?
Advance Parole is permission for certain
aliens, who do not have a valid immigrant visa, to re-enter the United States after
traveling abroad. Such aliens must be approved for Advance Parole before leaving
the United States. If they have not obtained Advance Parole prior to traveling abroad,
they will not be permitted to re-enter the United States upon their return.
Who needs Advance Parole?
Aliens in the United States who have:
· an application for adjustment of status
· been granted benefits under the Family Unity Program;
· been granted Temporary Protected Status;
· an asylum application pending; and/or
· an emergent personal or bona fide reason to travel temporarily abroad.
Who is not eligible for Advance Parole?
Aliens in the United States are not
eligible for Advance Parole if they are:
· in the United States without a valid
· an exchange alien subject to the foreign residence requirement;
· the beneficiary of a private bill; or
· under removal proceedings.
How does one obtain Advance Parole?
In general, an alien must file INS Form
I-131, Application for a Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos
and the $95 fee. Since filing procedures vary among INS District Offices, applicants for
Advance Parole should contact their local INS office for specific directions.
Information on how to locate and contact
your local district office as well as copies of Form I-131 can be found on the INS web
site www.ins.usdoj.gov. Forms also can be requested using INS toll-free forms
request line 1-800-870-3676.
Does Advance Parole or a Refugee Travel
Document guarantee admission into the United States?
No, Advance Parole or a Refugee Travel
Document does not guarantee admission into the United States. Aliens who have obtained
Advance Parole or a Refugee Travel Document are still subject to the INS inspection
process at the port of entry.
Can travel abroad still have severe
consequences for certain aliens, even if they have obtained Advance Parole?
Yes, due to changes to U.S. immigration
law, travel outside of the United States may have severe consequences for certain aliens
who are in the process of adjusting their status or changing their nonimmigrant status.
Such aliens may be found inadmissible to
the United States upon return and/or their applications for adjustment or change of status
may be denied.
Under the Illegal Immigration Reform and
Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, aliens who depart the United States after accruing
certain periods of unlawful presence in the United States can be barred from admission,
even if they have obtained Advance Parole.
Those aliens who are unlawfully present in
the United States for 180 days but less than one year become inadmissible for three years;
those who are unlawfully present for more than one year become inadmissible for 10 years.
Aliens who have concerns about their
admissibility should contact an immigration attorney or an immigrant assistance
organization accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals before making foreign travel
Questions and Answers Courtesy of
Immigration and Naturalization Services.