Prior to departing the U.S., foreign nationals in the U.S. in lawful non-immigrant visa statuses should review their U.S. immigration documentation to ensure that they have everything required for return admission to the U.S. If not, the foreign national should make the necessary plans to obtain this documentation prior to the trip abroad.
Please note that special rules apply to foreign nationals in F-1, J-1 or M-1 status, and foreign nationals in these statuses should consult with the Designated School Officer/Designated Responsible Officer prior to international travel.
Non-immigrant foreign nationals will need:
• All foreign nationals need to present a passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the planned return date and a valid, unexpired non-immigrant visa stamp (with certain exceptions for visa waiver countries, automatic visa revalidation and Canadian nationals) reflecting the foreign national’s current non-immigrant status for purposes of return admission/entry to the U.S.
• If in a work authorized status, three recent pay statements to evidence maintenance of non-immigrant status.
• Original unexpired I-797 Approval Notice (if applicable).
• Original unexpired I-129S (for foreign nationals in L-1 status pursuant to their employer’s Blanket L petition).
• If in a dependent status, the marriage or birth certificate that verifies the dependent’s relationship to the principal as well as three most recent pay statements issued to the principal (if not traveling with the principal, evidence of the principal’s status, e.g., a copy of the principal’s Form I-94 and/or I-797 approval notice, should also be carried).
What if a foreign national has a pending petition to extend his or her status?
If an extension of non-immigrant status is pending (including an extension filed as part of an H-1B change of employer petition), the foreign national in most cases is not precluded from traveling internationally, but should return to the U.S. during the validity period of their current I-797 Approval Notice. In the event the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer asks about the upcoming expiration date, the foreign national should carry a copy of the extension receipt. If the foreign national’s validity period has already expired the foreign national should not travel internationally until the extension petition is approved.
What if a foreign national has a pending petition for a change of status?
If the foreign national is seeking a change of status from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status, he/she should not depart the U.S. while the change of status is pending.
If a foreign national must travel prior to the approval of the change of status, the assistance of an immigration professional should be sought to discuss options.
What if a foreign national has a pending application for a green card?
If the foreign national also has a pending I-485 application to adjust status to lawful permanent resident (i.e., green card application), then the foreign national in a non-immigrant status other than L-1 or H-1B (or dependent status L-2 or H-4) may travel internationally only if he/she has been issued advance parole authorizing such travel and must present the advance parole authorization upon return entry.
A non-immigrant in L-1 or H-1B status, even if granted advance parole, may continue to travel internationally and return to the U.S. using his/her valid L-1/H-1B (or L-2/H-4) visa stamp so long as he/she (1) held valid L-1 or H-1B status upon departure and (2) is returning to resume employment with the same employer.
Similar rules also apply to those in K-3, K-4 or V status.