Can I Travel Outside the United States?

As an Afghan arrival, you may have questions about traveling back to Afghanistan (or to another country) and want to know how travel will impact your path to securing permanent residence in the United States. Traveling can have negative implications for your case, so it’s very important that you seek legal advice before making travel plans.

See the Travel Chart to
learn about your status.
There are some requirements all travelers should know about, but the risks you should consider depend on your situation. You may need to submit a Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document.) Be sure to fill out the form correctly based on your immigration status. See this chart for more information. Travelers who return to the United States with travel authorization will still be subject to inspection by Customs and Border Protection. Additionally, having a travel document does not guarantee re-entry to the United States. Please consult the State Department’s travel guide for more information on visa requirements for various countries, and the most up-to-date travel recommendations.

I’m so glad you asked! Traveling may complicate a person’s journey towards securing permanent resident status in the United States.

Oh really? How so?

Whether you should travel outside the United States depends on which applications you have submitted, whether those applications are approved, and which countries you plan to visit while traveling.

What should I do if I want to travel outside the United States?

If you want to travel outside the United States, speak to an immigration lawyer. Your lawyer will want to know which applications you have submitted to the U.S. government, whether any of those applications have been approved, and which documents you will need to show to officials in the country you’re visiting when you arrive.

Let's see what Samir needs to consider when he wants to travel to Canada.

Hi, my name is Samir.

I was an interpreter who worked for the U.S. government in Afghanistan. I just got my green card based on my approved Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). I would like to travel to Canada.

Congratulations on getting your green card! Generally, after a person receives a green card, they may travel outside the United States. But remember, it is always recommended to check with the embassy of the country you’re visiting for their specific rules and regulations about entering the country.

Is there anything else I should keep in mind?

Every country has different requirements for crossing their borders. Some examples of these general travel requirements are vaccinations, travel documents, items to declare, and goods you can’t bring into the country. Check with the embassy of the country you’re visiting for their specific rules and regulations about entering the country. To re-enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident, you will need to present your unexpired green card, identity card (such as a passport), and any other documents requested by Customs and Border Patrol. If you have questions about what you need to re-enter the United States after traveling, please consult with a lawyer.

Now, let’s hear Sabria’s questions about traveling to Afghanistan.

Hi! My name is Sabria and I want to travel to Afghanistan to visit my family.

Hi, Sabria. I can understand your desire to visit your family. For your safety and security, traveling to Afghanistan is currently not recommended by the State Department. You can learn more about the State Department’s travel recommendations by consulting their travel guide on visiting Afghanistan.

To understand how travel will impact your immigration application, status, and case, I need to know what immigration documents you have received from the U.S. government. Can you tell me more about what immigration documents you have received from the U.S. government so I can assess your travel risks?

My lawyer submitted an asylum application, but I haven’t received an approval for this application yet.

Leaving the country as an asylum seeker carries risks. Traveling back to Afghanistan could prevent you from being able to obtain asylum in the United States. Generally, because asylum is an application based on fear of returning to your country of persecution, travel to Afghanistan could indicate that you would no longer experience or would no longer fear persecution and may make you ineligible for asylum. The U.S. government may assume you have abandoned your asylum application. Always consult with a lawyer if you have questions about your circumstances.

How about traveling to other countries while my asylum application is pending?

Given that your application for asylum is pending, you must apply for and receive a travel document (also called an advance parole document) by submitting Form I-131 prior to travel. Please keep in mind that advance parole does NOT replace your passport and does not guarantee reentry into the United States. A lawyer should verify applicable documents prior to any travel, and we recommend seeking legal advice prior to making plans. You should also confirm what visa or entry requirements may exist for the country that you intend to travel to prior to making any plans.

Is there anything else I should keep in mind?

It’s possible that you may not be able to re-enter the United States even if you have the correct documents. You may have to petition a U.S. embassy in the country that you are visiting to re-apply for an alternative re-entry document, which could result in long wait times before you are able to return to the United States, and the application may or may not be approved.

Seek advice from an immigration lawyer to evaluate your options prior to any travel outside the United States.

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