Can I Travel Abroad While My Green Card Application is Pending?
After applying for a green card, one should think twice before traveling abroad. Essentially, a person enters the United States on a visa. One’s visa to the U.S. provides a temporary status that allows that person to visit, work, or study in the United States. When that person applies for a green card and is awaiting processing, they have effectively abandoned that visa. By applying for a green card, that person is requesting that their status change to permanent resident status. The green card applicant files Form I-485 for adjustment of status. However, until the application is approved, that person is in limbo regarding their immigration status.
Advance Parole Document
It is advisable when applying for the green card to also apply for Advance Parole. Form I-131 is an Authorization for Travel document that allows the green card applicant the ability to re-enter the United States after traveling abroad without a visa and preserves the adjustment of status application for the green card. The applicant is required to prepare Form I-131 with two copies of passport-style photos, and government issued identification documents, such as a passport and a copy of the receipt letter of the I-485 application previously filed by the applicant.
However, note that although this document provides an applicant advance permission to travel abroad and re-enter the U.S., it does not guarantee re-entry. U.S. Customs and Border agents can still technically deny the application based on abandonment. However, the instances of this happening are rare. Also, it is not recommended to travel abroad unless necessary since the applicant may be required to appear for an interview or fingerprinting. These appointments may be hard to reschedule. Also, missing or rescheduling these appointments may delay the green card processing time.
Emergency Parole Document
In the event of an emergency, a green card applicant who has not already applied for an advance parole document, may apply for an emergency parole document at a USCIS field office. Proof of emergency is required with this application and can be in the form of medical records and/or death certificates. Additional application fees, passport photos, and Form I-131 need to be filed. It is advisable to hold off traveling abroad while one’s green card is being processed. If, however, one has traveled abroad while a green card application is pending without an advance parole document, they may reapply for a green card through consular processing in a foreign country.
Philadelphia Visa Petition Lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. Help with Travel Documentation Issues
If you are planning to apply for a green card and/or need to apply for travel documents, the Philadelphia visa petition lawyers at the Law Offices of Tahir Mella, P.C. can help. Contact us online or call us at 215-496-0690 for a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.