Need to Travel to Your Home Country on an Emergency Basis? Read this First.

May 26, 2015 | Abandonment

As a Miami immigration attorney, I have encountered many cases wherein one of my clients needs to leave the United States on an emergency basis in order to visit his/her home country. If  you are not a United States citizen, and need to leave the United States on an emergency basis, here are some things to keep in mind.

Know what to do before an emergency arises
Do not wait until an emergency arises to find out what documents you will need to reenter the United States. You should consult with your Miami immigration lawyer before leaving the United States, so as to understand whether or not your departure will negatively impact your application(s) for immigration benefits.

Assume that your reentry will be subject to review 
As a Miami immigration lawyer, I often tell my clients this –  any person who is not a U.S. citizen or non-citizen U.S. national is subject to immigration review each time the person seeks admission to the United States from any place outside the United States.  Yes, this also applies to permanent residents (green card holders). Even if you have already been admitted as a permanent resident, you are still subject to review by an immigration official.  If, during such review, you are determined to be inadmissible (even though you may have been admissible previously), you may be denied admission. You may want to have the contact information for your Miami immigration lawyer handy, so that you can contact him/her should things go awry at the port of entry.

Have your reentry travel document ready at the port of entry
If you are seeking admission or parole at a port of entry you generally must have in your possession a valid and unexpired travel document (e.g. a green card, U.S. visa, an advance parole document) to present to the officer at the port of entry.

Depending on your immigration status or if you have an application for an immigration benefit pending, different types of travel documents may be required if you (including permanent residents) wish to return to the United States lawfully after travel abroad.  These documents should be applied for, in certain cases, prior to your departure from the United States.  If you are not sure what these documents are, do not guess. I suggest consulting with a Miami immigration lawyer to discuss what is required.

Travel outside of the United States may have severe consequences if you are in the process of adjusting your status (applying for a green card). In general, if you are seeking immigrant status (a green card) and depart the United States without the appropriate documentation (i.e. advance parole) you may be inadmissible to the United States upon return, or even if admitted, you may be found to have abandoned your application.

Filing an Advance Parole Document does not prevent abandonment of the change of status
If you have been admitted as a nonimmigrant and have applied to extend the period of authorized nonimmigrant stay, or have applied to change to a different nonimmigrant status, you will automatically abandon the application if you leave the United States before USCIS makes a decision on the advance parole application.  Receipt of an advance parole document does NOT prevent abandonment of the change of status or extension of stay application.  Upon returning to the United States, you are likely to be denied admission if your current status has expired.

Never assume that admission to the United States is guaranteed
You should keep in mind that admission into the United States is not guaranteed even if the appropriate documents are obtained.  In all cases, you are still subject to immigration inspection or examination at a port of entry to determine whether you are admissible into the country and whether you are eligible for the immigration status sought. Again, this is exactly why you should always have the contact information of your Miami immigration lawyer handy.

Aslyum applicants and refugees
Asylum applicants, asylees, refugees, and lawful permanent residents who obtained such status based on their asylum or refugee status are also subject to special rules with regard to traveling outside the United States.

Unlawful Presence
If you depart the United States after accruing certain periods of unlawful presence in the United States (time spent in the United States illegally) you may be barred from admission for either three years or ten years, depending on the amount of unlawful presence an individual has accrued.  Any departure from the United States may trigger this ground of inadmissibility, even if you have obtained an advance parole document. Again, you should check with your Miami immigration lawyer.

If you have accrued more than 180 days, but less than 1 year, of unlawful presence and who voluntarily depart the United States before the start of removal proceedings are inadmissible if you seek admission within 3 years of the date of their departure.  If you have accrued 1 year or more of unlawful presence and you depart the United States, whether or not removal proceedings have started, you are inadmissible if you seek admission within 10 years of the date of departure. If you are not sure as to what the requirements are, do not guess – speak with a Miami immigration lawyer to ensure that you are still in status.

Emergency Travel Document
If you absolutely must travel outside of the US on an emergency travel document, you or your Miami immigration attorney will help you file an Application for a Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos and applicable fees.

You must apply for your emergency travel document before leaving the U.S.
 Generally, an applicant for a travel document must also complete biometrics capture at an Application Support Center (ASC) prior to departure from the United States.  Failure to do so may cause the applicant to lose permission to reenter the country and lead to the denial of any other applications pending.

If you would like more information on traveling outside the United States on an emergency basis, please contact Miami immigration lawyer The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at tmsilvalaw.com.