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Help! I Have An Emergency And I Need To Leave The United States.

  • Published: February 12, 2018
Help! I Have An Emergency And I Need To Leave The United States.
Written by: Stephanie Scarborough, Esq.

We all dread that call in the middle of the night; our aging parent is faced with a sudden illness, a family member is injured, in the hospital or, sadly, a family member has passed away.  The normal reaction is to immediately book a flight and leave to go be with our loved ones.  At least that would be the normal reaction for a U.S. Citizen with a passport or Green Card.

However, if you have filed for an Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Resident (a Green Card), departing the United States could result in abandonment of your application. In other words, if you are in the middle of your Green Card application (i.e. it is processing), please do not leave the United States, I repeat, don’t leave the U.S.—until you have verified that your departure will not result in a denial of your Adjustment of Status application.

An example of abandonment—A Non-Immigrant applies for an Adjustment of Status (a Green Card) through either employment or family, then he/she leaves the United States and travels abroad for an emergency when their mother becomes very ill.  Now, upon his/her return from abroad, this individual is most likely admitted back to the United States in their Non-Immigrant status.  But, weeks later, a Denial Notice arrives in the mail notifying them that their Adjustment of Status application has been denied due to Abandonment.

Please Be Aware: You will abandon your Adjustment of Status application if you depart the United States before you are granted advanced parole.

When you file the Adjustment of Status application, you are eligible to also file an Application for Employment Authorization and an Application for Travel Document.  When approved, you will receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with a statement known as the “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole” or a “Stand-Along TravelDocument”.  If you travel outside the United States before this document is issued, even for emergency purposes to care for family, you will abandon your Adjustment of Status application.

{Note:  You will not abandon your Application for Adjustment of Status if you have maintained your valid H, L, or V Status, or if you are an applicant for Cuban Adjustment.} 

The application fee(s) for the Adjustment of Status are about $1225.00.  However, the consequences of not obtaining an Adjustment of Status could easily cost you thousands of dollars more than a $1225.00 filing fee.  Abandonment can have dramatic consequences, such as your children aging out (turning 21) and becoming ineligible, the loss of status, and possible removal from the United States.

If you are an applicant for an Adjustment of Status and an emergency occurs abroad that requires your physical presence, please make it your priority to consult with legal counsel before you decide to travel out of the United States.

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