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Can I Travel While Green Card is Processing?

The process of obtaining a Green Card can be lengthy and in some cases takes years. Therefore, those making a Green Card application can be confused on what the restrictions are on being able to leave the United States and travel internationally.

We are a team of experienced immigration lawyers that care about your future. Our expert immigration lawyers can offer you all the help you need with Green Cards.

If you need further help navigating the U.S.’s complicated immigration system, contact one of our immigration experts today at +1 844 290 6312. We are dedicated to finding the right lawyer for you!

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    Travelling While Awaiting Your Green Card

    It is permitted by US Immigration Services to travel while you are awaiting your Green Card. However, you must be aware that you may not be automatically allowed to enter the United States when you return. You should consider carefully your reasons for leaving the United States and the impact it may have on your future immigration status.

    You must submit a USCIS Form I-131 – Authorization for Travel document or re-entry permit, or advance parole travel document before making plans to travel outside the U.S

    If you submit this form with your Green Card application and is is approved by the US Immigration Services that you are permitted to travel in and out of the US while your Creen Card is being processed.

    It can be tempting to travel for pleasure reasons but you may wish to restrict travel overseas to only in extreme emergencies – even if you have requested permission leave the United States.

    Why Apply for a Advance Parole Document with A Pending Green Card Application?

    If you are planning to leave the country while in the middle of the application process for a Green Card then you should make a I-131 Application for a Advance Parole Document. This enables someone living in the US while waiting for a Green Card to travel overseas without invalidating their green card application.

    It is important to note that your Green Card application would be cancelled if you leave the US without a valid travel document. Therefore, it is recommended you apply for the travel document or advance parole document at the same time as beginning the application process for a Green Card – even if you do not plan to make a trip overseas you may wish to be able to travel due to unforeseen circumstances such as in family emergency situations or to a best friend’s wedding.

    The Importance of Having a Travel Document

    It is vital to ensure you have a valid travel document before leaving the US. The Advance Parole document essentially means you have permission in the future to re-enter the US even though you do not have a Green Card.

    If you travel aboard while your Green Card is still processing and you do not have a valid travel document then the USCIS could view you as having decided you no longer wanted a Green Card. This could mean you will have to reapply and repay the application processing fees. The Immigration Services are also within their rights to prevent you re-entering the US.

    How To Apply for A Travel Document

    Most people opt to apply for a travel document when they make their original application for a Green Card. To do this you need to complete Form I-131 as well as the other Green Card application forms.

    The application for a travel document requires photo ID – this can be a copy of your passport. You should also include two recent passport-sized photos with the Form I-131. There is also an additional fee to be paid for the travel document.

    If you did not apply for a travel card document when you made your Green Card application, it is possible to still apply. You will need to submit Form I-131, a copy of photo identification, two passport-sixed photos and a copy of the receipt given to you when you filled your Green Card application.

    How to Renew Your Travel Document

    The travel document is valid for 12 months from issue. It can take up to 150 days for your application to be processed and you are advised not to leave the country during this period. You should also ensure your travel document’s expiration date printed on the document is not before you plan to return to the US.

    The USCIS regularly updates the current processing times on their website as they can vary due to a backlog of applications.

    If your travel document is approaching expiry – the date is published on the travel document itself – you will need to apply to renew the paperwork.

    To renew your travel document you will need to submit Form I131 as well as a copy of the existing travel document.

    You will also need to send a copy of your Green Card application receipt and two passport-sized photos. There are no additional fees that need to be paid during the renewal application.

    Emergency Travel While Waiting For A Green Card

    The US Immigration Services will consider issuing an emergency travel document in some circumstances. This could be because a family member has suddenly died overseas or have developed a serious illness. If this is the case then you should contact your local USCIS office and arrange an appointment to have your application processed quickly.

    You will need to complete the I-131 form as well as bringing two passport photos and evidence of why you need emergency travel documents – this can be a copy of a death certificate or medical documentation.

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      Can I Travel After By Green Card Has Been Approved?

      Green Card holders can travel outside the United States without undermine their permanent resident status as long as they are not found to be inadmissible for re-entry.

      A lawful permanent resident or citizen of the US is allowed to leave the country compared to Green Card holders who are not guaranteed entry on return. To avoid being denied entry into the United States, anyone not clear on their immigration status should do the following when travelling overseas:

      • Carry with them and present to immigration authorities at a U.S. port-of-entry the necessary documents relating to their current lawful permanent resident status
      • Have proof that they have legally maintained their residence in the United States
      • Ensure that they have not been found inadmissible or deportable upon re-entry into the United States

      How can IAS help?

      If you are interested in immigrating or emigrating to another country, you should consider seeking the help of a trained immigration lawyer to guide you through the process.

      Our lawyers at IAS can provide you with tailored advice and packages based on your personal circumstances. We strive to make the application process as seamless as possible.

      For further information on how we can help, call us today on +1 844 290 6312.

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