With the holidays fast approaching, traveling internationally may be on your mind. Planning your trip can be fun but also stressful. Being prepared for any immigration requirements will reduce that stress, save valuable time, and ensure compliance.
If you have questions about upcoming international travel, the CIP PC legal team will gladly assist.
Here are some holiday travel tips to help you prepare.
Are your travel documents valid?
Much of the preparation for travel takes place well before your departure date. Sometimes, you may need several weeks or even months to ensure your travel documents are ready to go when you are. Here’s a list of common travel documents you should ensure are valid when making travel plans.
- Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least as long as the validity period indicated on your Form I-797 Approval Notice. If not, your I-94 expiration when re-entering the US will match your passport expiration date (meaning, your period of stay in the US will be shortened).
- Visa Stamps: Most nonimmigrant workers will need a valid visa stamp for the appropriate nonimmigrant category in your passport to re-enter the US. If your visa stamp is expired, you will need to apply for a new visa at a US Embassy/Consulate before you return.
- Make your visa appointment via the DOS website here before you depart: Complete your Form DS-160 application online before booking your travel to determine the availability of visa appointments. Be aware that US consulates worldwide may operate at reduced capacity, and complete visa services may not have yet resumed in your destination country. Note that holiday travel demand may result in long wait times for visa appointments. Also, increased “administrative processing” may result in unexpected delays after the appointment.
- I-797 Approval & Petition: If you are in the US on a nonimmigrant employment-based petition, ensure you have your most recent nonimmigrant petition approval notice, known as the “Form I-797 Approval Notice.” Also, be sure to have a full copy of your employer’s nonimmigrant petition.
- L-1 Blanket Petition Applicants: You must present your endorsed Form I-129S stamped by an immigration officer.
- Proof of Continuing Employment: Bring copies of your three most recent paystubs and/or an Employment Verification Letter from your employer to show continued employment in the US
- Permanent Residents/Permanent Residence Applicants: Make sure that you have your Green Card with you and that it is unexpired and undamaged.
- If your Green Card/Adjustment of Status Application is pending: If you have a pending green card or adjustment of status application, have your valid Advance Parole document or a valid H-1B visa or L-1A/B nonimmigrant visa to re-enter the US Check with your CIP legal team for details or questions.
- If you have a pending advance parole application: We recommend waiting for it to be approved before traveling internationally, as the advance parole application may be denied if you depart the US while it is still pending.
Are you transiting through other countries or regions?
If you must transit through another country to reach your destination (e.g., layover), ensure you have the required visa and documents applicable to the transiting country. If you have any questions regarding the country’s visa requirements that you will be transiting through, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your CIP legal team for assistance.
Anticipate travel delays
International travel can incur many unexpected delays. While you can’t necessarily anticipate those delays in advance, you can reduce any additional wait time by adding extra time to your trip to cover increased wait times for US Customs inspection, security checkpoints, and other related procedures. Plan for potential delays and arrange travel that is refundable or can be rescheduled if needed. Check with HR and your manager and inform them of the possible delays.
Returning to the US
Depending on where you’re returning from and how long you’ve been away, you may have different experiences returning to the US Here are some situations you may encounter and how to handle them.
Questions from US Customs: If you are stopped or questioned by US Customs officers, US Immigration officials, or other Port of Entry/Airport personnel, be cooperative, listen carefully to any questions asked, and answer clearly and concisely. Be ready to answer questions on your immigration status, such as the following:
- Who is your employer?
- What is your job title?
- What do you do in the US?
- How long do you plan to stay?
You should review the job details listed in your most recently filed visa petition, so you are prepared to answer these questions. Before you depart, please check with your CIP legal team if you have any questions about how your job details appear in your petition. If you do not know the answer to an officer’s question, it is okay to say so. Answering truthfully is better than making up an answer that can become problematic later.
Contacting CIP at US Entry: You do not have the right to an attorney at a Port of Entry or Preflight Inspection Facility. If a problem arises at your entry, please carefully note the issue(s) raised by the immigration official so your CIP legal team can understand and assist with the situation. While it is not guaranteed, if the immigration official permits you to contact your legal team at CIP for assistance, please do so.
Provide CIP with your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Once you have returned to the US, remember to:
- Check your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record online: i94.cbp.dhs.gov > Get Most Recent I-94
- Confirm that your information is correct and that you were given the proper status and duration of time. If your I-94 Record looks incorrect to you or if you are unsure whether the I-94 Record is correct, contact your CIP legal team, and
- Upload your and your dependent family members’ I-94 record(s) (and visas if you secured new ones) to your account profile in your Envoy account after each international trip
Questions about your travel documents? Contact your CIP team.
Safe travels and happy holidays from the CIP Family!