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The Travel Document Requirements - Valid Visa for Reentry

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  • The Travel Document Requirements - Valid Visa for Reentry

    imagesCAZS1MJ4.jpg The Travel Document Requirements - Valid Visa for Reentry

    Travel documents must be reviewed prior to departure. There are some steps, such as obtaining AP, which cannot properly be filed from outside the United States. For those who need to apply for visas, there are often supporting documents that should be gathered prior to departure from the U.S. Many unfortunate situations can be avoided by checking expiration dates of important documents, like the visa and AP, well in advance of departing the United States.
    Those who have plans to travel outside of the United States in the upcoming year must make sure their travel documents are in order. If a visa foil (commonly referred to as a stamp) is needed for reentry into the United States, it is important to double check the visa expiration date printed on the visa stamp in the passport. For many, a current visa in the appropriate nonimmigrant category is required for reentry into the United States after travel abroad.

    Obtaining a Visa

    It is important to remember that visa applications are made at U.S. consulates abroad. Appointments for visa interviews must be made in advance, and supporting documents must be completed and at hand for the interview. Application instructions are available online. These should be reviewed well in advance of the appointment. Instructions are subject to change and there are variations from one consulate to another with respect to some of the requirements and procedures.

    Port-of-Entry Matters

    Even if a new visa is not needed, travelers should make sure they have proper documents to present to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials upon their return to the United States at ports of entry. To avoid possible problems with reentry, it is important for travelers to understand the requirements for entry in their particular status and to be ready to explain the purpose for their requested time in the United States. They should have appropriate documents to verify their explanations, for example, a recent letter from the employer for those seeking to enter in employment-based categories.

    Obtaining Advance Parole

    Individuals are advised to apply for AP in advance of the expiration date to avoid delays in travel. AP renewals can be filed up to 120 days in advance of the expiration date. In the case of a true emergency, AP generally can be requested at a local USCIS office on a same-day basis. However, this procedure is at the discretion of the local USCIS office and most offices are reluctant to issue these documents except in truly extreme situations, such as the death or serious illness of a close family member. Any such emergent request needs to be thoroughly documented.

    With respect to AP, the USCIS initiated a combination EAD/AP card in early 2011. While the dual benefits of EAD and AP can be granted in a single card, it remains necessary to separately file the required forms requesting each benefit. The same applies to renewals and extensions of EADs and APs. We have found that there is some confusion in this area. For that reason, readers are reminded that the EAD requires the filing of an I-765 form and the AP requires the filing of an I-131, both in the initial request and any renewal requests.
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