As many of our clients will be traveling abroad over the holiday season, we provide this travel memo to summarize requirements for international travel. We encourage all to check with your Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group Attorney prior to travel.
Basic Documents Required for Travel (and re-entry to the U.S.):
- Passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of intended departure from the U.S.;
- Valid U.S. Visa ;
- Original Form I-797, Notice of Approval (for most Nonimmigrant Petition based cases);
- Valid Advance Parole for pending adjustment of status applicants (and/or a valid H-1B/H-4 or L-1/L-2 visa);
- Valid Lawful Permanent Resident Card (“Greencard”).
Applying For a Nonimmigrant Visa at A U.S. Consular Post:
- Nonimmigrant (NIV) appointments at many consular posts worldwide are often backlogged during the holiday season.
- Most applicants between ages 14 years and 79 years require an in-person consular visa interview.
- Consider Third Country National (TCN) processing at a U.S. consular post in Canada or Mexico.
- Appointment scheduling and visa issuance times can be checked online.
- U.S. Consular Posts links
- For more information on TCN visa processing please see our article “NONIMMIGRANT VISA PROCESSING IN CANADA OR MEXICO REMAINS THE BEST OPTION FOR THIRD COUNTRY NATIONALS.”
Please contact attorney Avi Friedman to discuss visa processing in Canada or Mexico as he travels frequently to assist the firm’s clients with visa applications at American consulates in Canada and Mexico.
Potential Nonimmigrant Visa Delays:
- PIMS – Department of State requires that Consular Officers verify the details of approved nonimmigrant visa petitions via “PIMS” (Petition Information Management Service). This applies to all nonimmigrant petition-based visa categories (H, L, O, P, and Q). This has resulted in possible four-day delays at many posts from interview to visa issuance.
- Security Advisory Opinions (“SAO’s”) – Security checks or so-called SAO’s are initiated by consular officers at NIV interviews and often are the result of “hits” based on information in the government databases. The main security checks affecting NIV processing are:
- The Visas Condor – classified criteria, but appear to be based on several factors including Country of Birth, Citizenship, or Residence, travel to predominantly Muslim countries, prior employment, military service for certain nationals, specialized skills or training.
- The Visas Donkey – a name “hit” based on non-criminal issues and is not nationality specific. For instance, a U.K. citizen with the name “Mohammad Khan” will very likely be subject to a donkey clearance.
- The Visas Mantis Clearance – the “sensitive technology” clearance with potential “dual-use” applications of seemingly benign technologies that may have potential military applications.
- Should you have concerns that you may be subject to one of these potential security clearances, feel free to contact your WILG attorney to discuss options.
- Automatic revalidation applies for trips to Canada or Mexico of 30 days or less provided that the alien has not submitted a visa application at a U.S. consular post and is not from the DOS designated State Sponsors of Terrorism (Iran, Cuba, Sudan, and Syria).
- If an applicant applies for a NIV at a border post or is a national of a State Sponsors of Terrorism, it is necessary to have a valid U.S. visa to re-enter the United States. Rejected visa applicants must now travel back to their home country directly from Mexico or Canada.
- Please contact your WILG professional to determine whether you qualify for automatic revalidation.
NSEERS and Departure Registration:
- Those subject to the National Security Entry/Exit Registration System (“NSEERS” – usually with a Form I-94 annotated with a “FIN” number) must be sure to comply with the departure registration requirements when leaving the United States.
- Allow adequate time if traveling by air or land to register your departure with the appropriate immigration office.
- If flying out of the U.S., you must register at the last airport before leaving U.S. airspace.
- Contact the CBP port of departure well in advance to confirm their location and hours – see http://www.ice.gov/doclib/nseers/srindividuals.pdf.
- Failure to comply with departure registration requirements results in serious immigration consequences and may result in you being found inadmissible.
We hope the above summary is useful in planning your international travel and we wish you a happy holiday season!