How Does International Travel Impact My Visa Status in the U.S.?

With the holidays upon us, you may be tempted to leave the U.S. for a few weeks to visit family or friends in your home country.  Before you purchase your plane tickets though, it may be wise to check that your current visa status will allow you to reenter the U.S. after your holiday travels.  Here are our top 3 items to check before you embark on your journey outside the U.S.:

  1. Do you have a valid visa stamp in your passport?  The visa stamp in your passport will be checked by a Customs Officer when you arrive back into the U.S. at a land port of entry or at an airport.  If your stamp is going to expire while you are abroad, you may need to renew the visa.  Or, if you originally entered the U.S. in one status and then changed your status (example: F-1 status changed to H-1B status), then you may need to apply for a new visa stamp in order to come back into the U.S.  For certain immigrants, a visa stamp may not be necessary at all.
  2. Do you have a pending petition or application with USCIS?  Currently, the U.S. government’s general rule is that once a petition or application has been filed with the U.S., you should remain in the U.S. and not travel internationally, otherwise your petition or application may be deemed “abandoned.” For example, if you are currently applying for your EB-5 visa and you are already in the U.S., you may need special permission to travel while your visa petition is pending with the government.  
  3. Did you overstay your visa? Did you enter the country in one status but stayed in the U.S. even after your status expired?  Depending on how long you overstayed your visa, if you leave the U.S., you may be barred from reentering the U.S.

How can you tell if any of the three issues above might affect your international travel plans?

At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you and your family to maintain your valid immigration status while still being able to visit family and friends overseas. Our immigration attorneys can advise you on how best to travel, allowing you peace of mind during the holidays.  Contact us for more information.