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All immigrants who are seeking a green card know that their travel into or outside the United States is carefully restricted. For most people, this means that you will be unable to leave the U.S. while you are waiting for your interview to be conducted or until the receipt of your approved green card. That being said, is it possible for immigrants to travel during this wait time? Yes, it is possible to travel as long as you follow the proper steps to avoid violating the law or avoiding having your green card request denied. The method for being able to travel depends on what exact your status is and what process you are following.
For example, many people need to travel outside the U.S. while they are waiting for their green card to be renewed or replaced. For these people, immigration has already reviewed and approved their initial requests for residency and have issued their green card, but they do not have their card because they either lost it or it is has expired and it needs to be replaced. Although it is never recommended to leave the U.S. without a valid green card, it is still possible to travel internationally for emergency purposes so long as you do not mind being hassled by customs when you try to reenter the U.S. We have had clients do this before and have reentered successfully, but they reported that they would probably not try to do so again in the future. Again, this may be possible, but only under emergency situations.
For those who have not yet received their green card approvals and are going through the marriage green card process with their U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident spouse, the rules are very strict. In short, you cannot leave the U.S while your case is being reviewed. If you do, the government will treat your exit as the abandonment of your green card request and they will close your file. In these cases, there are no appeals and no options for reconsideration. The only option is to start the process again from scratch.
So, what if you have an emergency and you really need to leave the U.S. before you get the green card? Immigration law does provide an option for those people, but only if they plan ahead. There is a special permission that can be requested to allow for specific international travel. This is called a travel permit and it is available to those who need to leave the U.S. for specific reasons such as work, business, health considerations or other humanitarian-based needs specific to the immigrant. Most of the time these requests can take many months to get approved, so we advise clients to apply for them at the same time as their green card request if they think there may be a future need to travel before the green card process to be concluded.
The final category of travelers are U.S. citizens. What restrictions are in place new naturalized citizens? None! There are zero restrictions on a United States citizen to be able to leave the U.S. and return. This is true whether you were born in the U.S. or if you obtained citizenship later in life. Although U.S. citizens have the same restriction that apply universally to all international travelers: you need a passport. Although it is still possible to leave the U.S. without a passport, coming back in could be challenging. If you find yourself in this situation, a visit with a U.S. embassy overseas will be required to obtain a passport or permission to reenter the U.S. Again, this is not recommended since it may not be possible to reenter the U.S. very quickly as it may take days or even weeks for the embassy to process your request.
Given the number of laws and restrictions on global travel, preparation is always the key to success. If you have any questions about how these processes work and need to speak with an experienced immigration attorney, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can do this either by calling our office at +1 888 589 2228 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: https://marvinlawoffice.com/schedule-a-consultation/