Holiday Season Travel Reminders

International travel is quite common in December and January each year. Many foreign nationals see the holiday season as a good time to visit family abroad. Some of the important matters that must be considered with regard to international travel are outlined here for the benefit of our readers. Advance planning is key.

Advanced Planning is Important to Reenter U.S.

There are significant variations in the documents needed to permit reentry to the United States. It is vital to give careful consideration to this prior to travel. One must make sure that everything is in order. It is surprising how many individuals plan and even commence travel without paying proper attention to the documents needed for their return. Failure to address these matters can, at the very least, significantly delay one’s ability to return to the United States.

In some instances, such as advance parole, it is necessary to request and obtain approval from within the United States. Advance parole requests, based on pending applications for adjustment of status (I-485 forms), cannot be made from abroad. In other situations, it may be necessary for individuals to obtain their new visas from U.S. consulates abroad. Appointments and proper documentation are required. Whatever the situation, the need for travel documents and the time required to overcome any potential problems in obtaining those documents, should be considered well in advance of travel.

Double Check Expiration Dates of Reentry Documents

People often misread or misunderstand their reentry documents. One of the most common mistakes involves the advance parole. Advance parole documents have a validity date that is clearly indicated; the document is valid for reentry prior to the stated date. The date that is important is on the advance parole document. People who have previously traveled on advance parole sometimes confuse the date on the I-94 entry document (which indicates a parole), and assume that their grant of advance parole has been extended. This can create significant problems; as such individuals often need advance parole in order to return to the United States. As mentioned, advance parole cannot be requested from outside the United States.

Be Aware of Trends

Most of our readers are aware of the incidents involving international travelers at the Newark, NJ airport in January 2010. This matter immediately upon receiving reports of these events, and provided further analysis in our article, Newark Airport: Analysis and Potential Options for H1Bs Entering the U.S. (12.Feb.2010). While no one could have specifically anticipated these incidents, they came in tandem with the January 8, 2010 USCIS H1B memorandum on employer-employee relationships and third-party placements. Following these incidents, many H1B employees chose not to travel. Other individuals who may need to apply for visas in order to return to the United States need to be mindful of the risks in that process, which in part depend upon the category requested and the current trends at the consulates.

Documents Required to Visit Another Country

It is important to arrange for any travel documents needed from the country of destination. This often arises as an issue for individuals who are foreign nationals with children born in the United States. The U.S. citizen children may need visas or other travel documents in order to enter their parents’ countries of origin. The same is true for naturalized U.S. citizens who may wish to visit their countries of origin. If travel is planned to any country other than one’s country of citizenship, it is necessary to find out what travel documents are needed to visit that country.

Transit Issues

In addition to considering the documents needed to enter the country of destination, it is important to review all requirements for transit as part of the travel. The rules of transit vary by country, and are subject to change. This may need to be considered prior to selecting a route for travel. Information is typically available on the websites of the immigration authorities of each particular country, or the consular website for each country.

Transit information for the United Kingdom is available online. German transit information is also available, as well that for France and Singapore.

Transporting Goods

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has compiled guidance regarding bringing items into the United States. This helpful guide, Know Before You Go, discusses important travel-related issues, including what items must be declared, and what items cannot be brought into the United States. There are also helpful suggestions on carrying documentation regarding one’s personal electronics and valuables.

CBP Can Search Laptops and Luggage at Border

Travelers should be mindful that they and their luggage are subject to search by the CBP, as well as by the authorities in the countries of travel. The CBP’s authority extends to laptops and electronic media, as explained in our September 4, 2009 article, Policy Revision on Laptop Searches, available on MurthyDotCom.

Check Documents upon Return

Finally, once the travel is completed, it is important to check the I-94 card issued at the port of entry. This card should properly reflect one’s entry status and the duration of that status. At the Murthy Law Firm, we commonly see examples of H1B travelers who have received I-94s issued with the visa expiration date instead of the H1B petition expiration date. In most cases, this is not correct. The I-94 should be issued for the duration of the H1B petition, even if the visa “stamp” expires earlier. There is a separate rule limiting the duration of the I-94 to the passport expiration date. Thus, the I-94 given might expire before the H1B petition, based on the passport expiration date. It is important that the date be checked after travel so that, if needed, a correction or extension may be obtained to avoid status problems and potential serious immigration consequences.


It is generally possible for foreign nationals to travel abroad; however, there are immigration concerns and document requirements that should be reviewed well in advance of travel, in order to be allowed reentry to the United States. Attorneys at the Murthy Law Firm regularly advise clients on immigration matters related to travel. We are available to help those who planning travel abroad. Contact our firm for more information.

Copyright © 2010, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.