Out on Parole (Can you travel on an I-512 with the wrong name?)
Not that sort of parole, but the U.S. immigration process does share some similarities with imprisonment.
I went from elation to defeat in the space of a few seconds.
I filed the paperwork in March (3 months ago) for this I.D. card–a combined employment authorization and advance parole card–that would finally allow me to travel outside the U.S.; a temporary measure until the application to adjust my status from temporary resident fiancé to permanent resident spouse is approved, and a conditional green card can be issued.
The passport photo I took several months ago stared back at me from the red, white, and blue plastic. It took about 2 seconds for my eyes to scan the card, read the name, and for my heart sink. “Surname: Stephen”, “Given Name: Edward”. How could they get it so wrong, I’ve filed atleast 15 different forms with my name on over the last 18 months.
I wanted to get back to London for the Olympics, I didn’t want to miss another big event because of my pending immigration status–I had to postpone my London Marathon place earlier this year because I couldn’t leave the country.
You Won’t Get A New Card
I spent the next few weeks trying to rectify the mistake. I returned the card to USCIS. They returned it to me. It was my fault, I had completed one of the forms incorrectly and would need to apply (and pay) again in order to receive a corrected card.
Don’t Make An InfoPass Appointment
I arranged an InfoPass appointment at a local office in Virginia to see if I might be able to travel on the card despite the error. “We cannot advise you on the matter” was the result of a 3-hour Zipcar trip, they suggested I contact U.S. Customs & Border Protection at Washington Dulles Airport.
Contact Customs & Border Protection
I found a phone number on the cbp.gov website and got through after a short wait. They were able to let me know very quickly that I would have no problem getting back into the U.S. on this card since all my information in the system was correct, and could be verified by my passport.
Expect A Wait At Immigration On Your Return
I returned to the U.S. last night after 10 days out of the country. After completing a customs declaration and a white I-94 form I passed through immigration with no problem. The immigration officer took four finger prints and a photo (again), marked my customs card with a big letter B in yellow highlighter and waved me through. I collected my bags and at customs was directed into the “holding pen” (for people with a letter B on their customs card). I waited for an hour with about another 25 people while my documents were checked. I was eventually allowed to exit the airport.
The incorrect name on my card presented no problems, the extended wait is standard procedure for anyone in the midst of adjusting their status.