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Can you travel internationally with a U visa?

If you have been a victim of criminal activity, such as domestic violence or sex trafficking, you may have to work with members of law enforcement. After all, to hold perpetrators responsible, officers often must obtain valuable statements and other evidence from victims. Still, working with the police can be scary when you lack any valid immigration status.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a U visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa that is available to certain individuals who assist members of law enforcement. Maintaining U status even may make you eligible for legal permanent residency eventually. Still, it can be risky to travel outside the U.S. with just U visa status.

No actual travel document

Even though many individuals refer to U status as a U visa, you are not likely to have an actual travel document. Rather, you only have proof you are in U status while you are inside the U.S. If you travel outside the country, you must visit a U.S. consulate to obtain a visa in your passport.

U.S. consulates tend to have notoriously slow processing times. Consequently, even though the USCIS has approved your U status, you may have to wait days, weeks or even longer for a consulate to process your visa before returning to the U.S. Even worse, the consulate may find some reason to deny your U visa application.

Advance parole

There is an exception, however. If you have filed Form I-485, Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, you may be able to plan a trip outside the U.S. Before you travel, though, you should wait for your advance parole document to arrive.

Ultimately, this travel document gives you advance permission to reenter the U.S. This means you can come back into the country without having to visit a U.S. consulate or apply for a separate visa.