Can I travel outside the US after my T-visa is approved?
It is extremely important that you talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in T-visas before traveling to determine if you can travel outside of the U.S.
Here we discuss some major concerns with traveling:
First, if you were granted T-visa status in the U.S., you will have to go to a consulate to get an actual “T visa” to re-enter the U.S. You are not automatically granted this visa (needed for traveling) when you are approved for T-visa status.1
Second, if you come into the U.S. with a different kind of visa after being granted T-visa status or if you come in without permission, your T-visa status may be revoked. 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
Third, be aware that being outside the U.S. for more than 90 days at one 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
Fourth, if you leave the U.S. and then return, you may trigger new grounds of inadmissibility that you did not get waived when you applied for T-visa status. Most likely, it would be the "unlawful presence" ground, which is only triggered when you leave the U.S.3 It is important to have the contact information for your lawyer with you if you leave the U.S. in case you do need to apply for a new waiver of inadmissibility. Your attorney could contact a national organization that is familiar with T-visas such as ASISTA for help working with Immigration to get the new waiver quickly.
Finally, if you already have T-visa status, and you submitted an application to obtain lawful permanent residence that is still pending, then you will need to request permission, called “advance parole,” before leaving the United States. Advance parole will allow you to preserve your application for lawful permanent residence when you leave the country. If you do not request advance parole before leaving the U.S., USCIS will consider your application for lawful permanent residence abandoned, and it will be denied.4
For all of these reasons mentioned above, it is extremely important that you talk to an immigration lawyer with experience in T-visas before traveling to determine if you can safely travel outside of the U.S. An immigration attorney with experience in T-visas should be able to determine if any of these risks apply to you by working with the national organizations with expertise in T-visas, such as ASISTA. To find an immigration lawyer, visit the Immigration section of our National Organizations 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 CFR § 245.23(a)(3); See USCIS website, Instructions for I-485, Supplement E
3 INA § 212(a)(9)(B) & (C)
4 See 8 CFR § 245.23(j); see Form I-131 and Instructions