Immigration law is very complex because it is always being changed and it has unique rules (that are not easily discoverable) that keeps immigrants and attorneys on their toes. Immigrants planning to file a request or those with pending processes need to be very careful when moving forward with their cases, especially when their process is inside the U.S.
One of the most common questions we get asked are from applicants who want to file for a green card inside the country, and who want the right to travel internationally while their cases are being reviewed. This is an important question since one of the hard rules in immigration law is that a person with a pending green card request waiting for their interview inside the U.S. is not permitted to leave the country until they receive their green card. That is, unless they apply for and receive a travel permit. This permit allows recipients to leave the U.S. for short periods of time, but are only granted for specific purposes. In other words, you cannot get one just because you want to travel. You need to have a good reason such as the need to conduct important business overseas or for an urgent humanitarian need (family emergency or the need to obtain medical treatment).
Since the review period for these requests often take longer than the entire green card process, I rarely recommend clients bother with these requests. Instead, I advise clients to plan ahead and resolve any foreseeable problems before filing for their legal permanent residency so they can just wait for their green card to be approved and then travel. Once they have their residency, they will have up to 6 months to travel without needing to worry about their immigration status.
Another example of immigration in constant change is a new process for Afghan nationals as a result of the political fallout from the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. On August 29, 2021, President Biden directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to lead and coordinate ongoing efforts across the federal government to support vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked alongside us in Afghanistan for the past two decades. DHS has implemented a broad range of services, including COVID-19 testing, isolation of COVID-positive individuals, vaccinations, additional medical services, and refugee resettlement in the U.S. for qualifying individuals and their families.
On February 1st, DHS announced that it is updating is policy regarding immigration medical examination requirements for Afghan nationals applying for green cards after arriving in the United States under the Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) program. Effective immediately, these applicants may not need to repeat their immigration medical examination if they already completed an immigration medical examination conducted by a panel physician before they arrived in the United States. This does not impact the vaccination requirements that are a condition of their parole into the U.S. for MMR, polio, and COVID-19, among others. Additionally, all OAW arrivals are still tested for COVID-19.
Like almost all applicants with current immigration cases, the increased delay in processing immigration petitions is also being experienced by to Afghans. If you have been paroled into the U.S. and are working on your application for legal permanent residency, it is important to keep this delay in mind as you settle into the U.S. Any requests for immigration status or benefits should be carefully researched beforehand since these processes are new and somewhat untested by the government. It is always advisable to contact an immigration attorney to assist you with whatever process you think you may be eligible for.
For assistance with your immigration matter or if you have any questions, please contact our office today to schedule an appointment at +1 888 589 2228.