Can I Travel While My Green Card Application Is Pending?

Posted By Law Offices of Elsa Martinez

The process of obtaining a green card in the United States can certainly be tedious. Even after you meet all of the guidelines, collect the required documents and file the correct paperwork, you still have to wait to hear back from the USCIS. During that time, you may feel inclined to travel abroad to visit family and friends, but is it allowed while your green card application is pending?

Travel After Filing Naturalization Application

After you file a green card application (Form I-485), you cannot travel abroad unless you receive an advance parole document prior to departure. If you travel without proper authorization, the USCIS may deny your case for “abandonment.” To obtain an advance parole document, you must file Form I-131 Application for Travel Document with the USCIS, which takes approximately 90 days to authorize. Typically, you can file Form I-131 for free at the same time as Form I-485.

Once you receive authorization to travel you are free to go, but you must be mindful of your travel plans coinciding with any required green card appointments. Although you can reschedule these appointments, it is not recommended, as it may delay the process of your green card.

Note: Advance parole is not necessary if you are traveling between the United States and any of its territories, including Puerto Rico, Guam, NorthernMariana Islands, Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

Emergency Travel

If you have an emergency and need to travel, you can visit a USCIS field office and request an emergency parole document. You’ll need to complete the I-131, pay any fees, provide 2 passport-style photos and show evidence of your emergency request (medical documents, death certificate, etc.).

Whether you need assistance with visa guidelines or family immigration, our Los Angeles immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Elsa Martinez can provide over 20 years of experience to your case.

Call (213) 985-4550 or contact us online to speak with an immigration attorney.