Can I safely travel if I am out of status?

IMMIGRATION CORNER - Michael J. Gurfinkel - The Philippine Star

(Second of two parts)

Another acceptable document is an “US citizenship and immigration services employment authorization card” or a work permit, which is typically issued to a person while they have some other application pending for interview or approval, like adjustment of status.

International travel

While ordinarily a person may not encounter issues or problems flying within the US if they are out of status, they could have a lot of problems if they attempt to travel outside the US, no matter what the reason or emergency. If they have been out of status for even one day and they have a tourist visa that will not expire for many years, that visitor’s visa is considered void, and cannot be used again to return to the US. The law is one day out of status voids your nonimmigrant visa. They would have to apply for another visitor’s visa and it’s unlikely they would get a new one.

If a person has been out of status for more than six months and departs the US, they could be banned from returning for between three and 10 years.

Some people apply for adjustment of status and can also apply for what is called “advance parole,” which is permission to travel outside the US while their adjustment application is pending and be able to return. But I think there could be some risks involved, because what happens if, while they are gone, their case gets denied? What if the petitioner withdraws the petition? In fact, I came across a case where a woman went back to her home country on advance parole and, while there, she got into a fight with her US citizen husband, who promptly withdrew the petition. So, she had problems.

Of course, if a person is issued advance parole, they are entitled to travel, but I just wanted to point out possible risks or issues, so you can make informed decisions.

I hope you have found this information helpful. I also post immigration videos on my YouTube channel, US Immigration TV. But if you are out of status, you may want to consult with an attorney who can evaluate your situation and perhaps provide options to legalize your status.

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