So you’ve submitted your Form I-131 and are ready to travel outside of the United States. But where exactly can you go?
Here’s a simple guide to international travel after submitting Form I-131.
Getting your Travel Document
Submitting Form I-131 alone isn’t going to allow you to travel. Form I-131 is actually an application for a travel document, which you can use for some types of travel. There are four different types of travel documents that you can get, based on your immigration status:
- Advance Parole
- Refugee Travel Document
- Re-entry Permit
- Carrier Documentation
Traveling with a Travel Document
So where can you go with a travel document? It depends. Each country decides its own policy in regards to U.S. travel documents. Some countries will require a tourist visa, others will not. Some countries also require immunizations or have other travel requirements.
In general, you should plan your trip carefully to make sure you’ll meet the travel requirements for each country that you’re planning on visiting. Check out the Department of State’s website for information about countries and their travel requirements. Don’t forget that if you have a passport from your country of origin, you can use that for international travel as well.
Returning to the United States
The most important thing that your travel document does is that it lets you get back into the U.S. after your trip is over. If you don’t have a travel document with you, you’ll have a hard time getting back in. That’s why it’s important to submit Form I-131 and receive your travel document BEFORE you leave.
If you’re a lawful or conditional permanent resident and are planning to be abroad for over a year, you should apply for a Re-entry Permit. This will allow you to apply for admission to the U.S. after your trip without having to get a returning resident visa. For more instructions on traveling outside the U.S. for lawful permanent residents, click here.
If your Re-entry Permit or green card is lost or destroyed while you’re abroad, you’ll need to submit Form I-131A, which will allow you to get Carrier Documentation. Carrier Documentation is basically a travel document that you can show to an airline or other transportation service so that they’ll take you to the U.S.
If you have asylum or refugee status and are NOT a lawful permanent resident, you’ll need a Refugee Travel Document to get back into the U.S. unless you have an Advance Parole Document.
If you’re still in the process of adjusting your residency status or applying for asylum, you’ll need an Advance Parole Document. If you leave the country without an Advance Parole Document, your application will be considered abandoned unless you fall into one of these categories:
- H-1 temporary worker (or H-4 spouse or child of H-1)
- L-1 intracompany transferee (or L-2 spouse or child of L-1)
- K-3 spouse or K-4 child of a U.S. citizen
- V-1 spouse or V-2/V-3 child of a lawful permanent resident
If you do fall into one of these categories, you’ll still need to present your valid nonimmigrant visa upon returning to the U.S.
Enjoy your trip!
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