Can I Travel Internationally While VAWA I-360 is Pending?

I am excited about fulfilling a lifelong dream of traveling to Africa, specifically Tanzania, Kilimanjaro, and the Serengeti in January 2024. They reflect on the impact of the pandemic, which disrupted their international travel plans in 2020, leading to a loss of spontaneity and adventure. Emphasizing the importance of prioritizing fun for mental and physical health, the post discusses the challenges faced by noncitizens, particularly those applying for green cards under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The main concern is the potential denial of applications if individuals leave the United States while the process is pending. The post explains that Advance Parole, which allows international travel, is typically granted when filing for a green card, but VAWA applicants may not receive this benefit. The advice is to be cautious about traveling without proper documentation and suggests consulting an immigration professional due to the constant changes in immigration rules and regulations.

I will be traveling to Africa in January 2024, my first trip to that continent. A lifetime dream come true.  Even the words sound exotic: Tanzania, Kilimanjaro, Serengeti. I am all the more grateful because it is a privilege, not only having the financial means but also having the time and the stamina to safari.

Make Travel Your Priority

I have not traveled internationally since 2020, the pandemic tearing apart a family trip to Morocco and Egypt. Given that others lost their health and their loved ones, losing international travel seemed only an inconvenience. With hindsight, I realize that the pandemic instilled fear of people, fear of illness, and fear of dying where once I had felt spontaneous and adventurous. In short, I lost my fun.

Now, however, for my mental and physical health, fun is my priority.

Many noncitizens cannot travel internationally simply because they cannot get the proper travel documents from our country’s government. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) considers leaving the United States while an application is pending as abandonment resulting in immediate denial. So, green card applicants of the Violence Against Women Act fear that – now that they have left an abusive relationship – they are still trapped within our borders.

Can I Get I-131 Advance Parole with I-360 VAWA?

A noncitizen can travel internationally when USCIS grants Advance Parole. Importantly, however, USCIS grants advance parole when a VAWA applicant files for a green card, the Application for Residency. So, no, a VAWA applicant will not get Advance Parole. A noncitizen who has filed VAWA and has no other application pending with the government should not think about traveling. Fortunately, parents, spouses and children of U.S. citizens can file for Advance Parole together with residency together with VAWA. Spouses of legal permanent residents may (but not always can) file for Advance Parole together with residency together with VAWA.

Immigration rules and regulations are constantly changing. Hire an immigration professional to get you there and get you back. See you at the airport.

Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.

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