Can I travel outside the U.S. after my T visa status is approved?
It is extremely important that you talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in T visas before traveling. Here are some problems with traveling:
- Even if USCIS approved your T visa application, you cannot come back into the US unless and until you go to a consulate to get an actual “T visa” to re-enter the U.S. You do not automatically get an actual T visa (needed for traveling) when you are approved for T-visa status.1
- If you come back into the U.S. with a different kind of visa, such as a visitor’s visa, after being granted T visa status, or if you come in without permission, USCIS may take away your T visa status. This may happen because the consulates are not sufficiently trained on T visas and may delay giving you a T visa or may give you bad advice and information.1
- Being outside the U.S. for more than 90 days at a time, or more than 180 days in combined trips, may prevent you from getting lawful permanent residence. This is the “continuous physical presence” requirement for T lawful permanent residence status.2 See Now that I have T visa status, can I apply for permanent resident status? for more information.
- If you leave the U.S. and then return, you may trigger new immigration law barriers (“grounds of inadmissibility”) that you did not need to deal with when you applied for T-visa status.3 If you leave the U.S., you should have your lawyer’s contact information in case you can’t get back into the U.S. without filing new forms. Your attorney could contact a national organization that is familiar with T-visas such as ASISTA for help getting these forms approved quickly.
- If you have T visa status and you already submitted an application for lawful permanent residence that is still pending, then you will need to request permission, called “advance parole,” before leaving the United States. If you do not request advance parole before leaving the U.S., USCIS will assume you have dropped your lawful permanent residence application and deny it.4
For all of these reasons, it is extremely important that you talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in T visas before traveling. An immigration attorney with experience in T visas should be able to determine if any of these risks apply to you. To find an immigration lawyer, visit our National Organizations - Immigration page and/or our Finding a Lawyer page.
1 See the Visas for Victims of Human Trafficking page from the U.S. Dept. of State
2 8 C.F.R. § 245.23(a)(3); See USCIS website, Instructions for I-485, Supplement E
3 INA § 212(a)(9)(B) & (C)
4 See 8 C.F.R. § 245.23(j); see Form I-131 and Instructions