women leaving the united states while waiting for a green card

Can I Leave the U.S. While Waiting for a Green Card?

The Green Card application process is not only a complex one, but it is also a lengthy one. Even the applications that are quickly processed take several months and sometimes over a year. If you are waiting on a Green Card, you may want or need to do some traveling outside of the U.S. in the meantime. Here is what you need to know about that.

Leaving the U.S. While Waiting for a Green Card

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does provide that immigrants may travel abroad while waiting on their Green Card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card. The applicant wanting to travel outside of the U.S. must, however, complete the application and Green Card interview process prior to traveling. Additionally, those awaiting a Green Card, along with all immigrants looking to travel outside of the U.S., need to get an Advance Parole to re-enter the country after the completion of their travels.

An Advance Parole travel document allows for the continued processing of an adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident. Failing to obtain an Advance Parole for someone who is in the process of adjusting status to that of a permanent U.S. resident may have serious consequences. In fact, a person in this position may not be allowed to return to the U.S. Any pending applications may be denied as USCIS may consider your international travel without Advance Parole to be an abandonment of your application.

In order to obtain Advance Parole, you must complete Form I-131—Application for Travel Document. Unless the form is filed along with Form I-485 or you meet other specific criteria, there will be a filing fee. You are able to complete the form online. In addition to completing the application, you must attach other information. You must attach a copy of any document issued by USCIS that shows your current status in the U.S. There is other documentation that must be submitted along with your application but it will vary depending on your specific circumstances such as where you are looking to travel.

It also must be said that, if it is not necessary to travel internationally while waiting on your Green Card, try to avoid it or delay it until you have received your Green Card. Advance Parole, or a re-entry permit, does not actually guarantee that you will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. At the end of the day, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will have the decision making authority as to whether or not to allow a foreign national re-entry into the U.S. The fact that you are not guaranteed re-entry is stated on the back of the Advance Parole travel document. While the odds may be low that you would be denied re-entry, the sheer fact that it is a possibility should compel you to use caution and be extremely selective about your international travel options.

Contact Our Experienced Green Card Application Attorneys At NPZ Law Group

If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com.