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FAQ: International Travel

FAQ: International Travel

These materials are provided solely for informational purposes and are not legal advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Readers should not act upon the information contained in this FAQ without first seeking advice from a qualified attorney. 

(Updated as of June 2023)

The following Frequently Asked Questions highlight important considerations for foreign national travelers seeking to travel to or reenter the United States. Please consult our website for legal updates that may impact international travel and for links to specific U.S. Consulates with information regarding visa stamp acquisition and entry.

Please note that international travel may be complicated by a permanent residency application or non-immigrant visa extension process. International travel should be undertaken only after full consideration of the relevant risks. Please note that the below FAQ covers only restrictions related to travel into the United States but does not cover complications or visa requirements regarding entry to other countries globally. If you have specific questions regarding contemplated international travel, please reach out to WSM to set up a consultation.

COVID-19 Related Requirements for Foreign National Travelers Entering the U.S.

Q: What are the current guidelines and vaccination requirements when traveling to and from the U.S.?

A: As of May 12, 2023, foreign national air passengers no longer need to show proof of being fully vaccinated with an accepted COVID-19 vaccine to board a flight to the United States. See more information here.

Traveling Internationally While Permanent Residency Application in Process

Q: My employer has sponsored me for permanent residency. Is it OK for me to travel internationally?

A: Whether you should travel internationally will principally depend on two factors: (1) type of nonimmigrant visa held, and; (2) stage of permanent residence process (i.e., PERM, I-140, AOS).
Please note that the H-1B and L-1 visa types allow for “dual intent,” which means that individuals holding H-1B and L-1 status can have the intent to move into permanent residency status.
Alternatively, the TN, F-1, or J-1 visa types are strict “nonimmigrant intent” visas, which means that individuals holding TN, F-1, or J-1 statuses should not have the intent to remain in the U.S. in the long term. This nonimmigrant intent requirement can complicate international travel for those holding TN, F-1, or J-1 visas where a permanent residency case has been initiated.

Other visa types, including the O-1 and E-3, fall into a grey area.

  • For those individuals holding a “dual intent” visa status, i.e., H-1B or L-1, international travel after initiation or filing of a PERM, I-140, or Adjustment of Status is typically permissible assuming no other
    issues or concerns and assuming that the individual holds an Advance Parole document or valid visa stamp in their passport. If the individual does not hold a valid visa stamp or an Advance Parole document, international travel is not advised.
  • For those holding a strict nonimmigrant intent visa, i.e., F-1, J-1, or TN, international travel after initiation of a permanent residency process will be more complicated and is not advised, particularly
    once the I-140 immigrant visa petition has been filed. This is because the traveler makes an attestation upon entry into the country that they will abide by the terms of the nonimmigrant visa, which includes
    holding nonimmigrant intent.
  • For those holding O-1 or E-3 status, international travel should not be undertaken once the adjustment of status (AOS) application has been filed.

**Note that for those holding F-1, J-1, TN, O-1, or E-3, international travel after the adjustment of status has been filed will result in the abandonment of the AOS application unless the individual possesses a valid Advance Parole document. Even then, international travel is tricky and should be undertaken only after consultation with an attorney.

Q: I hold H-1B or L-1 status and I currently have an AOS pending, but my Advance Parole document has not been issued. Can I travel internationally?

A: A first-time application for an Advance Parole (AP) document, i.e., not a renewal, will be denied if the traveler departs the country before AP issuance. The advisability of international travel will depend on whether this individual possesses a valid visa stamp in their passport. If the individual does not possess a valid visa stamp in their passport and the AP has not been issued, WSM advises against international travel.

Q: I hold H-1B or L-1 status and have a valid Advance Parole (AP) document. I would like to travel. Should I also obtain a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate abroad before I return to the U.S., or is the AP sufficient for my re-entry?

A: The valid AP document should be sufficient documentation to re-enter the United States after foreign travel. Given possible delays and complications for obtaining a visa stamp at a U.S. Consulate abroad, the AP can be used instead.

Q: If I hold H-1B or L-1 status, travel internationally, and reenter the US using my AP document, how does this impact my underlying Non-Immigrant Visa status?

A: Individuals who enter the United States using their AP documents have been able to benefit from non-immigrant visa extension of status petitions without issue. In other words, we have not seen an issue with beneficiaries entering on AP and subsequently maintaining/extending their H-1B or L-1 non-immigrant visa status.

Traveling Internationally While Non-Immigrant Visa Extension Application in Process

Q: My employer is seeking to extend my non-immigrant status but I have international travel plans. Is travel permissible?

A: Please note that traveling while the extension petition is under preparation can cause complications. For example, non-immigrant visa holders in the United States and their dependents must be physically present in the United States on the date that the extension petition is filed. Further, if the beneficiary or their family members depart the United States after the extension petition is filed and the extension is approved while the traveler is en route back to the United States, the traveler could be admitted under the old non-immigrant visa approval rather than the most recently approved petition. Please consult with WSM if you are contemplating international travel while the non-immigrant visa petition is being prepared for filing or is pending.

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