Category Archives: Travel Documents

Immigration Insider articles in this category include information about advance parole documents, reentry permits, refugee travel documents, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.

How to Respond to a USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE) Correctly

uscis request of evidence letter and envelope

Short of a rejection or outright denial, one of the biggest ways U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) strikes fear into the heart of an applicant is to issue a Request for Evidence. Best known as simply an “RFE,” the USCIS Request for Evidence is a formal request for you to submit more information to support your application. The agency has issued an RFE because they don’t have adequate information to make a favorable decision. Generally, this is because you have failed to include important information on the application or did not support all of the necessary supporting documents.

Take a deep breath. An RFE will generally add a delay to the application processing time and may create some anxiety, but it isn’t an indicator of a pending denial. If you fail to respond, USCIS will likely deny your application. If you respond as directed, you are no more likely to be denied than if you hadn’t gotten the RFE.

Continue reading

Green Card Renewal from Outside the U.S.

Green Card Renewal From Outside the United States

You are outside the United States. Perhaps you’re visiting family or traveling on business, and you realize that your green card is expiring, already expired or even missing. You already know that having valid, unexpired proof of permanent resident status is critical for reentry at a U.S. port of entry. What to do? First, it’s important to understand that green card renewal from outside the U.S. is not an option. You’ll need to be physically inside the United States to renew a green card.

However, there are solutions to get you home. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS) does not support green card renewal from outside the U.S., but there are various ways to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad. Each depends on your specific situation.

Continue reading

USCIS Receipt Number Explained

USCIS Receipt Number Explanation

After you’ve filed almost any application or petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they will respond by mailing you a Form I-797C, Notice of Action, within approximately 1-3 weeks. (It may take longer to receive the I-797C for some other forms like Form I-751.) The I-797C, Notice of Action, is commonly known as a receipt letter.

For applicants who have incorrectly filed or included the wrong payment, the receipt letter will indicate that USCIS has rejected your case. You will need to refile. If you’ve prepared the form correctly and followed the USCIS directions carefully, the receipt letter will indicate that USCIS has accepted your case. Once the form has been accepted, USCIS will begin reviewing your case.

The receipt letter contains a unique 13-digit receipt number. Also known as a case number, it’s a very important number to help you track the progress of your case or identify a particular immigration filing.

Continue reading

Green Card Abandonment: Risks of Travel Abroad

green card abandonmentThere are several ways that you can lose your status as a lawful permanent resident. One of the most common ways is through unintentional green card abandonment. Permanent residents may travel outside the United States. Vacation, family engagements, tourism, business are all legitimate reasons for temporary travel abroad. However, permanent residents who are absent from the United States for extended periods of time risk abandoning their permanent resident status.

In fact, the risk of green card abandonment is real for any permanent resident whose travel is not temporary in nature. Each year, many green card holders returning from trips abroad find themselves in jeopardy of losing their status because their trips are not clearly temporary in nature. Continue reading

Advance Parole Travel with Adjustment of Status

The Advance Parole travel document permits reentry to the United States after travel abroad and preserves a pending I-485 application
CBP officer inspects advance parole travel document

During the adjustment of status (AOS) process, the applicant can remain in the United States while waiting for his or her green card. But it can take several months to receive the green card after filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status.

Many applicants want to travel abroad during this time to visit family or take a vacation. But there’s a problem – leaving the country can put your adjustment of status (AOS) application in jeopardy. Generally, an AOS applicant that leaves the United States without without advance parole will abandon the I-485 application and will likely have trouble reentering. There are some exceptions. To return to the U.S., this person would need to restart the immigration process through consular processing in a foreign country. This is a long and expensive journey.

Continue reading

Travel Abroad Affects N-400 Citizenship Eligibility

Travel Abroad Affects N-400 Eligibility for us citizenshipWhen applying for U.S. citizenship via naturalization, English and civics tests get much of the attention. But permanent residents often do not understand how travel abroad can affect their eligibility for naturalization.

Two related but separate requirements, continuous residence and physical presence, must be satisfied for one to be eligible to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Excessive travel abroad can adversely affect eligibility. Excessive travel can include one long trip or the accumulation of several trips over the period that precedes your admission as a U.S. citizen. Continue reading

Lost Green Card Abroad and Returning to the U.S.

lost green card abroad with travelingYour lost green card abroad can be a travel headache. But if you’ve lost your green card or reentry permit while outside the United States, there’s a process to help you obtain travel documentation.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation), a form that allows permanent residents to apply for a travel document (carrier documentation) if they:

  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel of less than one year, and their green card has been lost, stolen or destroyed, or
  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel of less than two years, and their reentry permit has been lost, stolen or destroyed.

U.S. laws require transportation carriers such as airlines to check passengers for passports and visa before bringing them to the United States. In fact, these laws impose penalties if passengers are not in possession of the required documents. Continue reading

Reentry Permit for Permanent Residents

CBP inspects reentry permit for permanent residentA permanent resident can generally travel outside the United States and return by simply showing a permanent resident card (green card) upon reentry at a U.S. port of entry.

But there are situations that a reentry permit is needed in addition to the permanent resident card.

A reentry permit can help avoid two types of problems:

  • Your permanent resident card becomes technically invalid for reentry into the United States if you are absent from the U.S. for one year or more.
  • Your permanent resident status may be considered as abandoned for absences shorter than one year if you take up residence in another country.

After traveling abroad, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at your U.S. port of entry will need to determine if your travel was “temporary” in nature. To be temporary, you must have the intention to return to the United States at the time of departure and throughout the entire trip. Employment, family, filing of taxes, involvement in the community all demonstrate ties to the U.S. To determine your intentions, some of the questions that a CBP officer may ask cover topics such as: Continue reading

Obtaining a U.S. Visitor Visa with a Pending I-130 Petition

Get a visitor visa with a pending I-130 petitionThe process to obtain a family-based green card can be a long road. While some eligible relationships may only take a few months, other can take years. Naturally, it would be nice to visit family in the United States while waiting for the immigrant visa. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa after filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

It may be difficult, but it’s not impossible to obtain a visitor visa with a pending I-130 petition. Many people with pending immigrant visa petitions have successfully traveled to the United States on a B visitor visa or through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). In fact, Canadians can typically cross the border with ease with a visa or visa waiver. For others, it will be necessary to prove the trip will only be temporary. Continue reading

USCIS Lost My Application

uscis lost my applicationUnfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no different than any other massive government organization – they are heavily burdened with a large workload and aren’t the most efficient organization. In fact, several agencies make up the overall immigration system. Consular offices, Department of State and the National Visa Center all play a role. Over 6 million forms are filed with USCIS each year alone. Even if you’ve used our tips for preparing USCIS forms, it’s not uncommon for these agencies to lose parts of your application package or even the whole thing. But there are some preventive measures so that you don’t have to call us to say, “USCIS lost my application!” Continue reading