Traveling while your I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is pending can be tricky. Generally speaking, traveling with a pending application will directly result in an abandoned application. However, in certain cases, traveling does not affect the status of the application. As an H-1B visa status holder, there are two options for traveling: Advanced Parole or a valid H-1B visa.
In this piece, we share the difference between the two and obtain them to secure travel abroad.
What is H-1B Visa?
H-1B visa is one of the most sought-after nonimmigrant visas used by employers in the US to hire foreign workers. The visa can be used to employ workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher in a specialized occupation.
The visa gives a wide range of benefits, including the ability to live and work in the US, change employers or work for multiple employers at once. Along with this, the dependent spouses of H-1B visa holders can obtain H4 Employment Authorization and work within the US.
Further, H-1B visa holders can travel abroad and return to the US without obtaining any other documentation. However, this changes after you file an I-485 Adjustment of Status document.
What is Adjustment of Status?
If you are in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa like H-1B, you can submit Form I-485 to change your status from nonimmigrant to immigrant or status as a permanent resident. This is commonly known as the Green Card Application.
Keep in mind that obtaining a green card is a difficult process. Once the Adjustment of Status application is filed, the United States Child and Immigration Services (USCIS) will go through an extensive review process. Having an H-1B status does not guarantee a green card.
While your Adjustment of Status application is pending, you will need to take certain precautions to ensure that your application isn’t denied or abandoned. One area in which you need to exercise caution is traveling when you are in nonimmigrant status.
Traveling With a Valid Nonimmigrant Status
Generally, suppose a foreign citizen possesses a nonimmigrant visa and is applying for an adjustment of status. In that case, he or she is required to travel only if he or she has Advance Parole.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, though. As long as they have a valid visa, H-1B, L-1, and K-3/4 visa holders do not require advance parole paperwork. The Adjustment of Status (AOS) petition is the last step in the process of acquiring a green card in the United States.
As a result, processing via the USCIS takes longer. During this vital processing period, the petitioner should avoid doing any of the following activities, which might lead the USCIS to conclude the petition has been abandoned.
In short, if you plan to go outside of the United States while your I-485 adjustment of status petition is pending, but you still have a valid H-1B visa, you can utilize the visa to return to the United States after your trip. You do not need to get any extra travel documents in this scenario. This is one of the advantages of having a valid nonimmigrant status from the start to the finish of your green card application.
Here are a few key points that you should keep in mind while traveling on an H-1B visa with a pending I-485:
- Immediately respond to any request for clarification made by the USCIS
- Appear for the scheduled interviews to complete the verification process
- Provide all the relevant documents, including fingerprints or biometrics
- Do not obtain Advanced Parole for traveling abroad
In case of failure to follow any of the above steps, the AOS application might be considered abandoned by the USCIS. In such a case, you will have to submit a fresh I-485 for adjustment of status.
What is Advance Parole?
If you do not have a valid nonimmigrant status or will not have a valid nonimmigrant status upon return to the US, you need to obtain advanced parole. Advanced Parole works as a travel document to allow nonimmigrants without valid visas to travel abroad. Keep in mind that obtaining advanced parole does not give the rights of a nonimmigrant or the ability to travel in and out of the US. Instead, it provides a one-time entry into the US>
How to Obtain an Advance Parole?
Before leaving the country, double-check that the I-131, Application for Travel Document has been properly authorized. If you don’t, your I-485 adjustment of status application will be automatically refused.
You will obtain an I-512 if your Advance Parole is accepted, which will allow you to depart and return without endangering your adjustment of status. Remember that you will still be subjected to an inspection by Customs and Border Protection. Thus, Advance Parole does not ensure that you will be allowed to return.
1#How does being on parolee status affect my H-1B job?
If you travel overseas and use advance parole to re-enter the United States, your I-94 will state that you are a “parolee.” You can only work for the employer with whom you had an H-1B petition approved before leaving the United States while in this status.
After re-entering on advance parole, you’ll need to file an H-1B modification, extension, or transfer to alter your I-94 from parolee to H-1B. If your petition is accepted, you will receive a new I-94 status indicating that you are an H-1B visa holder.
2#How can I travel without a valid nonimmigrant status?
If you do not have a valid H-1B visa, advance parole document must be obtained before going. Otherwise, you might not be permitted to return to the United States following their trip overseas.
This will also ensure that you do not have to attend a visa interview abroad. Keep in mind that it will come with certain drawbacks if you obtain advance parole. For example, if your I-485 is denied, they would lose their non-immigrant status and may lose their ability to stay in the United States.
3#Can I travel with a valid H-1B visa and pending AOS application?
It is unnecessary to get an Advance Parole to rejoin the United States if status applicants have a valid H-1B visa and a pending AOS application. In fact, if an H-1B visa holder uses Advance Parole to rejoin the United States, their H-1B status will be canceled. After that, the foreign national would be referred to as a “parolee.”
The H-1B employer allows a “parolee” to continue working. However, they will not get legitimate H-1B status until the employer has filed for an extension on their behalf and has the application accepted. This requirement, however, is only applicable if the applicant’s H-1B visa would not have expired if the applicant had not departed and returned under advance parole documents.
How Can Herman Legal Group Help?
Navigating through the rough waters of American immigration law can be very difficult and confusing. It is normal to feel anxious and stressed about the process. That is where we come in. Our team of experienced and qualified lawyers has the expertise and knowledge to help you through every step of the way.
The Herman Legal Group is a full-service immigration law firm that proudly provides quality legal services to individuals, families, and businesses throughout the United States. We specialize in all areas of immigration law, including employment-based visas, family-based visas, citizenship, green cards, and asylum. Our clients come from all walks of life and we tailor our services to fit each unique individual case.
No matter your particular immigration needs, we are here to help. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to assist you.