By Avi Friedman, Esq.*
As many foreign nationals will be traveling abroad over the upcoming holiday season, this brief travel memo summarizes the basic requirements for international travel/return to the United States. Please note that DHS and DOS policy often changes with little or no prior notice so we encourage you to check with your immigration attorney prior to your travel.
The basic documents required for travel and re-entry to the U.S. include:
- A passport valid for at least six months beyond the date of intended departure from the U.S.;
- A valid U.S. visa;
- The original Form I-797, Notice of Approval (for nonimmigrant petition based cases);
- A valid advance parole for pending adjustment of status applicants ( or a valid H-1B/H-4 or L-1/L-2 visa);
- A valid Lawful Permanent Resident Card (“Greencard”) for U.S. permanent residents;
- It should be noted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has automated Form I-94 at air and sea ports of entry. The paper form is no longer provided and a CBP admission stamp is issued in the passport. The I-94 (record of admission) should be printed as soon as possible after admission to the U.S. from www.cbp.gov/I94. See here for additional information.
If you need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Consular Post, please consider the following:
- Nonimmigrant (NIV) appointments at many consular posts worldwide are backlogged during the holiday season;
- Most applicants between ages 14 years and 79 years must have an in-person consular 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 at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/wait/wait_4638.html;
- U.S. Consular Posts links can be found at http://usembassy.state.gov;
- 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 at here.
TCN processing at border posts is a complex and highly specialized field of U.S. immigration law. Applicants should be aware of the significant risks, including potential delays for security clearances/administrative processing (see http://travel.state.gov/visa/a_zindex/a_zindex_4353.html), denials and most important, the inability to return directly to the U.S. if rejected/delayed. The advice of an experienced attorney is highly recommended to research post policy, thoroughly review the applicant’s U.S. immigration history and status, properly prepare the visa application forms and supporting documents, and be available to assist the applicant with the visa process. In addition, any individual with a criminal arrest and/or conviction or immigration status issues should consult with immigration counsel prior to departing the U.S.
Feel free to contact me at email@example.com with questions regarding TCN visa processing in Canada and Mexico.
Safe travels and a have a happy holiday season!
*Avi Friedman, a senior attorney with Wolfsdorf Immigration Law Group, was named the 2014 Los Angeles Immigration Law “Lawyer of the Year” by U.S. News-Best Lawyers®. Mr. Friedman served three consecutive terms on the AILA Department of State Liaison Committee (2007-2010). He is currently serving his tenth term as the Consular Affairs Liaison for the Southern California Chapter of AILA. Mr. Friedman is listed in Who’s Who of Corporate Immigration Lawyers as an “outstanding” lawyer and an “expert on consular issues.” Mr. Friedman is also listed in The Southern California Super Lawyers.
This does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.