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The U-Visa and Traveling Abroad

The U-Visa and Traveling Abroad

There are various times during the U-visa process that an applicant may wish to travel abroad. If you filed your U-visa application while in the United States, it can be risky to go abroad while the application is pending, or even after it has been approved.

Additionally, an applicant can file for U-nonimmigrant status from abroad.

Filing Your U-Visa Application From Abroad

Applying for U-nonimmigrant status from abroad is very similar to filing for U-status from within the United States; however, there are some slight differences.

The two main differences are that applicants abroad have the additional step of filing for an actual U-Visa stamp, with which they can enter the United States. An actual visa stamp can only be issued by a consulate or embassy abroad, so after USCIS approves your I-918, you will still have to file for a visa stamp before you are allowed to enter the United States

Additionally, you cannot file for work authorization until you enter the United States, whereas applicants who are present in the United States file for work authorization at the time of filing the initial applications.

Applicants Who Have Filed Their U-Visa Applications in the US, But Who Need to Travel Abroad While the U-Visa is Pending

While your application for U-visa status is pending, typically, it is not advisable to travel abroad. If you travel abroad before USCIS adjudicates your I-918 petition, you will be stuck outside of the United States until USCIS approves your case and transfers it to your nearest embassy or consulate. If you travel abroad while your application is pending, it’s as if you filed it while abroad (see above).

If you are present in the United States and have filed an application for a U-visa, you should consult an experienced attorney before leaving the United States.

Can I Travel Abroad Once My U-Visa Application Has Been Approved?

In most instances, it is not advisable for people in U-visa status to travel abroad, even after U-visa status has been granted. If you’d like to travel overseas while in U-visa status, you should consult with an experienced attorney who can explain all of the risks involved with such travel.

You Must Obtain a Visa to Re-enter the United States

When USCIS approves your application for U-visa status, they are giving you a new ‘status,’ and they will send you documentation proving that you are, in fact, in U-nonimmigrant status. They do not issue an actual visa, with which you can enter the United States. If you leave the United States, you’ll need to apply for an actual U-visa abroad. (see above).

Grounds of Inadmissibility

When you filed for the U-visa, you also applied for a waiver of specific grounds of inadmissibility. If you leave the United States, you may trigger additional grounds of inadmissibility that were not covered by your original waiver- like the three or ten-year bars. If you trigger additional grounds of admissibility, a consulate abroad will require you to obtain new waivers before they issue you a U-visa stamp. This means that you could be stuck outside of the United States for a prolonged period, waiting for your waiver application to be processed and for the approval to be transferred to the consulate.

Once your U-visa status has been approved, you also need to be sure you do not break your ‘continuous presence.” You can apply for U-Visa Adjustment of Status after you’ve been continuously present in the United States for three years. You need to be careful about how much time you spend abroad as long absences abroad could break your ‘continuous presence.’

If you have a pending U-visa application or have been approved for U-visa status and would like information about traveling abroad, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in complex U-visa cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!


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