Can you travel while the Form I-130 petition is pending?

It is possible to travel to America or from America and return even if there is a pending Form I-130 petition filed by a sponsor to help you get a Green Card.

Travel to the U.S. while Form I-130 is pending

An immigrant petition Form I-130 filed on your behalf means you will eventually get an immigrant visa and immigrate to the U.S., if you are eligible. However, you may not get a visa immediately and there could be a long wait before you get your Green Card.

This does not only apply to you but to everyone else for whom immigrant petitions have been filed. You may be able to come to the U.S. on a visitor visa.

However, immigration authorities may not issue non-immigrant visas while immigrant petitions are pending. Immigration authorities will have a hard time believing that you will return to your home country at the end of your authorized stay in the U.S.

But there are many who have successfully received B-2 visitor visas and traveled to the U.S. while their immigrant visa petitions were pending. Similarly, you also may get a non-immigrant visa to visit your husband or wife in the U.S., if you provide sufficient evidence that you will return to your country before your nonimmigrant status expires.

An immigrant petition filed on your behalf means your intention is to immigrate to the U.S. and live here permanently. So you are more likely to face greater scrutiny while applying for a temporary visa. To avoid denial of a non-immigrant visa, you will need to provide documents to show that you will not stay back in the U.S. after your temporary visa expires. You will need to prove that you have ties in your home country and that your stay is only temporary. Likewise, it is mandatory to prove that you can afford your expenses during your trip to the U.S.

Make sure to carry the following documents with you to the visa interview to successfully get your nonimmigrant visa.

  • Valid passport
  • Nonimmigrant visa application confirmation page
  • One 5×5 color photograph
  • Proof of income, assets in your home country, business ownership, residence, and binding ties, to prove that you have things to take care of in your home country.
  • Explanation about your trip and your travel itinerary.
  • Letter from your employer detailing your authorized vacation, if you are employed. This will help you prove that you will return from the U.S. to return to your job after your vacation.
  • Photocopies of your husband’s or wife’s (the person who has filed an immigrant petition on your behalf) green card or naturalization certificate.

*Depending on your particular situation, you may be required to submit some other documents like criminal or court records, if you were arrested or convicted.

Travel outside the U.S. while Form I-130 is pending

If you are legally in the United States and your family member has filed an I-130 petition to sponsor you so that you can get a Green Card you may travel outside the U.S. This totally depends on the immigrant status that you currently hold.

If you are in the U.S. on a tourist visa and the petition was filed when you were visiting then you are still required to adhere to the tourist visa rules. So before the end of your expiration, you should leave the U.S. You might be able to come back to the U.S. with the unexpired Visa but there will be a lot of scrutiny at the port of entry and if there is an intent to stay in the U.S. you will be sent back.

Similarly, if you are in the U.S. on a different immigrant status other than a pending I-485 then it might be possible to travel outside the U.S. But before you travel connect with a lawyer and consult before making a decision as it could have serious implications.

However, if your I-130 petition is approved and you have filed for adjustment of status or you concurrently filed I-130 and I-485 and they are in pending status then traveling outside the U.S. will result in abandoning your application.

So if you have an I-485 pending you should apply for an advance parole document and after approval, you can travel outside the U.S. It is important to note that leaving before getting your advance parole document will still result in abandonment. So make sure to get your document before you leave the U.S.

In case there is an emergency and you have to travel while the I-485 is pending you should connect with a lawyer to go through your options and make the right decisions.

Getting the travel document does not guarantee admission into the U.S. as you will have to go through the port of entry and only if the officer allows you then you can enter. People even with a parole document have been stopped at the port of entry for various reasons. This happens to people who most likely have done something illegal. So consult a lawyer if your immigration case is complex.