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Travel Tips for Nonimmigrant Visa Holders
Plan for the possibility of visa issuance delays at U.S. consulates. During the holiday travel season, U.S. consulates overseas are busier than ever and may have reduced hours. If you will apply for a new visa while abroad, check the relevant consulate or embassy for specific information about appointments, application procedures and processing times. 
Plan for possible security clearance delays during the visa application process. The U.S. consulate may require your visa application to undergo additional security checks based on your country of nationality, whether your name is similar to an individual listed in a U.S. government security database, or whether your job or degree is in a high-technology field, among other reasons. If a security clearance is required, your visa cannot be issued until the clearance has been completed. Because this process is confidential, the consulate will not confirm that a clearance is underway but may indicate that "administrative processing" is required. Security clearances can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or more. In general, the government will not expedite a security clearance. 

At the U.S. port of entry, be prepared for security screening procedures. When you return to the United States, you will need to go through the Biometric Data Collection System (formerly known as US-VISIT), a check-in process where your fingerprints, photograph and travel documents are scanned against U.S. national security and police databases. You may also be subject to intensive questioning about your immigration status, travel history, the purpose of your visit, background, employment and other issues. 
It is important to remain patient during these procedures and answer all questions clearly. If you don't understand a question, ask for clarification. 
Obtain your Form I-94 arrival record. Once you have been cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at an air or sea port of entry, your passport will be stamped to show the date and class of admission, and the expiration date of your authorized stay. Your immigration information and duration of stay will also be entered into CBP's online I-94 arrival record system. The expiration date on the passport stamp and the I-94 record marks the expiration of your eligibility to remain in valid legal status in the United States. Overstaying this date can have serious consequences. After your arrival in the United States, you must obtain a printout of your online I-94 at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
More Travel Tips For Nonimmigrant Visa Holders
Check your passport validity. In general, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the expiration of your period of admission to the United States. This is to ensure that you will be able to leave the United States at the end of your stay and proceed to your home country or another country. There are some exceptions to this rule. Many countries have an agreement with the United States under which a passport is deemed valid for an additional six months past its expiration date so that the passport holder can return to his or her country of citizenship. 

Check your visa to make sure it is valid for reentry to the United States. When you come back to the United States after international travel, the visa stamp in your passport must reflect your current nonimmigrant visa status, it must be unexpired, and, if the visa has a limited number of entries, it must have a remaining valid entry available on the intended date of reentry to the United States. Canadian citizens are not generally required to have a valid visa to enter the United States, unless they are E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrants. Under certain circumstances, if you are making a short trip of 30 days or less to Canada or Mexico and have a valid I-94 arrival record, you can reenter on a previously issued visa even if it has expired. But if you have applied for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico or if you are a citizen or national of Iran, Sudan or Syria, you must wait to obtain the new visa in order to reenter the United States. 
If you are an adjustment applicant, find out whether you need advance permission to travel before you leave the United States. If you are an applicant for adjustment of status to permanent residence, you may be required to obtain advance permission to travel - known as advance parole - in order to leave the United States while your adjustment application is pending. If you already have a valid H-1B, H-4, L-1A, L-1B or L-2 visa, you may reenter the United States on that visa, without the need for advance parole. But family members in H-4 and L-2 status who have worked in the United States pursuant to an employment authorization document (EAD) issued in connection with their adjustment of status application should be cautious when traveling, and are advised to obtain and use an advance parole for reentry to the United States. 
Is a change or extension of your status pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? Traveling abroad while an application to extend your status is pending should not jeopardize your application. But if you have a pending application to change status to another nonimmigrant category, you should avoid international travel until it is adjudicated. USCIS will consider the change of status request to be abandoned if you depart the United States while it is pending. Though the underlying nonimmigrant petition could still be approved, you would need to depart the United States, apply for and obtain a new visa, and reenter to take up the new status. 
What to do if immigration detains your family member
Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) can arrest and detain people in the United States who do not have valid immigration status.  ICE can arrest people in different ways but most often contact with ICE is prompted by a criminal arrest.  If you are awaiting bail in a criminal case or you have been convicted and are serving your sentence, an ICE detainer may be filed with the local jail asking the jail to detain you for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take you into federal custody for removal proceedings. There is no way to prevent a detainer being filed, but if you are aware that a detainer has been filed against you, you should consult with an immigration attorney immediately. When the ICE Officer arrives at the local jail where a detainer is in place, the individual is often moved to the local ICE office for processing of removal proceedings.  ICE will then decide whether to detain the individual or release them on their own recognizance.  If ICE decides to detain an individual, the officer can set an amount to be paid for an immigration bond before he or she is released.  If there is no bond amount set, or if the amount is too high, an individual can request to have the bond re-determined by an Immigration Judge. To locate a person in ICE custody you can find them online here or by contacting your local ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Office.
Know Your Rights if you are Stopped by an Immigration Officer
Immigration Officers employed by the Department of Homeland Security (such as Customs & Border Patrol, Homeland Security Investigations, or Enforcement & Removal Operations) have the ability to detain immigrants, but anyone stopped should remember their rights:
  • Remain Silent.  You have the right to remain silent.  You do not have to answer questions asked by immigration officers if you do not want to.  This includes questions about your immigration status, birthplace or citizenship.  If you don’t want to answer a question you can say, “I have the right to remain silent” or, “I need to speak to my lawyer.” You also have the right to communicate with a consular official from your home country.  Never lie to an officer or show them fake documents.
  • Ask to see a warrant before opening the door.  An officer may not enter your private property without a warrant.  A warrant is a paper signed by a Judge giving immigration officers permission to enter your home.  The warrant should list the places in your home the officer has permission to search.  If immigration officers knock on your door, you have the right to see the warrant before opening the door.  Ask the officer to slip it underneath the door and review it to make sure it is signed by a Judge.  If the officer does not have a warrant, you do not need to open the door, but the officer may later arrest you in public if they chose to do so.
  • Talk to a lawyer before signing anything.  You do not have to sign anything giving up your rights.  Signing a document such as a Stipulated Order of Removal without understanding it could result in you agreeing to be deported without first seeing a Judge.  Talk to a lawyer and make sure you understand what you are signing.  Our office will immediately take calls about detained individuals.
Military Parole in Place
Military Parole in Place is a mechanism to create a legal entry into the United States for spouses, children and parents of Armed Forces Members without actually departing the United States.  The United States Department of Homeland Security policy memorandum from November 15, 2013, PM-602-0091, lays out the procedure and guidelines.  Parole in place can have tremendous benefits for family’s who were previously ineligible for permanent residency due to entrance into the US without permission or inspection. Who qualifies?
  • Spouse, children and parents of active duty US Armed Forces Members (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines Corps., Coast Guard)
  • Spouse, children and parents of Selected Reserves Members of the Ready Reserve (not Individual Ready Reserve or Inactive National Guard)
  • Spouse, children, and parents of previous active duty Armed Forces Members or Selected Reserve members of the Ready Reserve
Immigration Help for Victims of Certain Crimes
WHAT IS A U VISA? A U visa allows victims of certain crimes committed in the U.S., who have suffered mental or physical harm and are helpful to the police investigation or criminal prosecution, stay in the U.S. legally.  Crimes that help you qualify for a U visa are crimes against people. For example, crimes involving domestic violence, sex crimes, violent crimes, crimes involving holding someone against their will, or forcing them to work for free.   HOW DOES HAVING A U VISA HELP YOU?
  • A U visa allows you to live and work legally in the U.S. for four years
  • Some of your family members might also be able to get a U visa through you
  • After you have the U visa for three years, you may qualify for a permanent residency (a green card).
  • The U visa can offer a way to get legal status for people who have criminal or immigration problems that make it impossible for them to get other immigration benefits.
Immigration Benefits for Abused Spouses, Children and Parents of U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents
The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) was the first piece of federal legislation specifically designed to help curb domestic violence.  Congress recognized that victims of domestic violence need immigration law protection because a petitioning U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident abuser has complete control over a victim’s immigration status.  Often, the abuser uses their legal status to threaten the victim with deportation. These are powerful tools that can lock battered immigrants and their children in abusive relationships and may aggravate the violence they experience.   Under VAWA and its subsequent reauthorizations, Congress gave victims of battery and extreme cruelty (perpetrated by a U.S. citizen or resident) the power to “self-petition” for their immigration status independent of their abuser.   The victim of abuse must prove that their abuser is a citizen or resident, that the abuser battered them or subjected them to extreme cruelty during their marriage, that they married in good faith, that they lived with the abuser during their marriage, and that the victim has good moral character.  Abused children and parents of abusers are also eligible for VAWA benefits.   If you have experience physical or emotional abuse by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, or child, you may benefit from VAWA protections.  Click here for more information regarding domestic violence and to find help in your area.
Advance Parole travel document under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program
An Advance Parole travel document traditionally allows for re-entry to the United States while an application for Adjustment of Status is pending.  The instructions for the Advance Parole travel permit, filed on Form I-131, are available at the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service website here.   Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) travel is permitted to individuals who:  
  1. Already have already been granted DACA; and
  2. travel abroad will be in furtherance of: humanitarian purposes, including travel to obtain medical treatment, attending funeral services for a family member, or visiting a sick relative; educational purposes, such as semester-abroad programs and academic research,or; employment purposes such as overseas assignments, interviews, conferences or, training, or meetings with clients overseas; and
  3.  have a valid passport and
  4.  not “inadmissible” to the United States.
“Inadmissible” has a specialized meaning under the Immigration & Nationality Act.  Please see an attorney to discuss your particular situation.
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