The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS lays down some general rules and guidelines for green card application. Its policy manual includes dos and don’ts for conditional green card applicants concerning different aspects.

If you wish to travel to the United States, you need to familiarize yourself with these things to avoid mistakes. We also highly recommend working with an experienced immigration attorney in a law firm to assist with the process.

Marriage-based green cards processing time typically takes a while, depending on who you’re married to – U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident? It takes a shorter time if you’re married to a U.S. citizen, but it isn’t that long for the other category either. While you wait for your permanent resident card to be processed, you may want to travel or do other things.

This article contains some things you should know about international travel outside of the United States while waiting for your marriage-based green card.

Can I Travel Internationally While I Wait for My Green Card?

You can travel outside the United States while your green card is pending if you get a travel permit. The USCIS must issue a travel authorization, also known as an advance parole document, before you can travel abroad. If you plan to re-enter the country after temporary foreign travel, you must file I-131l Application for Travel Document. You can file the form with your I-485 concurrently; there is no fee for the Form I-131 travel visa application if filed this way.

The advance parole issued to you must be presented at all times when you want to travel until you become a permanent resident. This parole alongside every other travel document is vital and should be available every time you want to leave or enter the United States. You may not enter the United States or leave the United States if you cannot tender your advance parole travel document at the point of entry.

It’ll take ninety days from the day the USCIS receives the I-131 for it to issue the travel authorization. By then, the applicants will be receiving their interview notice also, which would make traveling outside pointless. Nevertheless, if your traveling is a must, you can reschedule the green card interview, but that’ll delay when you get your card.

Can a Spouse Travel While Waiting for a Green Card?

Can a Spouse Travel While Waiting for a Green Card

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A foreign national spouse can travel to visit their U.S. citizen spouse while waiting for their green card. In such cases, the foreign spouse can apply through a tourist visa, especially if they wish to go back afterwards. During the immigrant visa application, they may also apply for the K-3 visa intended for an immigrant spouse who wants to await the approval of their application in the U.S.

If it is an emergency, you can apply for an emergency travel document that will have an expiration date printed on it, and such an application can be made on the appropriate gov websites. Anything done outside those on secure websites is at the applicants risk, including sensitive information lost.

The tourist visa is a nonimmigrant status visa through which foreign nationals can enter and stay temporarily in the United States. The tourist visa caters to business and tourism visits, or both; the applicant may answer a few questions to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent.

How Many Days Can You Be Outside the U.S. with a Green Card?

You can stay outside the U.S. for as long as you want as a green card holder, but with caution. It is important that you don’t stay too long or come in through any illegal port of entry without a valid travel document so that your lawful permanent residents status is not considered abandoned. If you stay too long outside the U.S., the CBP officer at the port entry will do some secondary inspection.

They’ll access and review your previous entries and exits to the U.S. from the records as well as your travel document. They’ll ask where you’ve been, for how long you were gone, why you traveled, and who you left in the U.S. while you were away. Denied re-entry is a repercussion of staying too long outside the U.S. as a green card holder.

When Can You Apply for the Advance Parole Document?

The easiest and quickest way to apply for travel documents is with your initial marriage green card application package. Include Form I-131 with forms I-485 or I-130 along with other documentation, including a copy of your passport’s photo page. You won’t pay an additional legal fee if you submit the I-131 with your initial application for a green card.

Nevertheless, you can still apply if you’ve already submitted the application for your green card. In this case, you’ll need to submit the form with two passport-sized photos and copies of your photo ID and I-485 receipt notice.

What If I Move or Travel While I Await My Adjustment of Status Interview?

The wait for adjusting status is months long, depending on your local USCIS office. If you need to travel at that time, you should get official permission first or it’ll be assumed that you abandoned your status.

You’ll start again or, worse, you may not be granted entry into the United States for months or longer. That is, you’ll need to get an immigrant visa or green card from your home country’s U.S. consulate or embassy.

However, if you traveled with the K-3 visa, you can obtain the re-entry permit and use it as often as you want. That’s one of the immigration benefits of the K-3 visa. Thus, to be safe, file for the advance parole application with proof that you have filed your current status adjustment application.

Can You Apply for an Expedited Advance Parole Document?

You can apply for an expedited advance parole document in extremely urgent situations if you meet the criteria. You will need to contact the USCIS contact center and bring the following application materials to your appointment:

  • A filled and signed Form I-131 with the correct filing fee,
  • Evidence supporting the emergency request, like a death certificate or medical documentation, and
  • Two passport-sized photos.

Should You Apply for the Expedited Advance Parole Document?

We often recommend that immigrants avoid applying for an expedited advance parole document for important reasons or emergency travel documents. First, the process is long and difficult, and your reasons for the expedited document must be legitimate.

The USCIS won’t grant the request if you’re traveling for your best friend’s wedding, attending a business conference, or going on your honeymoon. Immigration officers even deny the request in emergency situations like the serious illness or death of a relative.

Also, you need to be in the U.S. to attend your biometrics appointment within three to four weeks of your permanent residence application. Then, you must attend your in-person green card interview with an immigration official three to four months after filing the application.

What Is the Immigration Law About Unlawful Presence?

If you leave the United States after staying longer than your visa’s validation date, you’ll be inadmissible into the country for three to ten years. It’s the same if you unlawfully stayed more than six months (180 days) but less than a year and leave before the removal proceedings start. If it is more than a year, you’ll not be able to re-enter for ten years, whether or not removal proceedings have started.

How Can Herman Legal Group Help You?

Do you want to travel internationally while remaining safely connected with your green card application? You need a tested and trusted immigration attorney who can help with the process of application for a travel document.

Even though the United States is the home country of your spouse or one you have resided in for years, a time will come when you will have to travel internationally, either for jobs or an emergency situation. At such times, Herman Legal Group can help you process your travel status while ensuring your citizenship application doesn’t suffer any major blow. To get this done, you will need to schedule a consultation with any of our qualified attorneys by calling +1-216-696-6170.

Alternatively, if you need a professional attorney who is sound in the general rule and exceptions regarding immigration law, then you need Richard Herman, and you can book online to schedule a consultation with him today.


There are no embargoes placed on international travel while awaiting pending green card application. However, we urge you to do so with caution to avoid having to start an already difficult green card application process over – or worse. Even if you’re traveling on business for an official government organization, you need to obtain a foreign national re-entry permit before leaving. Better still, speak freely and transparently with your immigration lawyer about your plans.

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