Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

International travel advisory for foreign national employees in the U.S.

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While there are no reliable numbers from the U.S. government, it is estimated that approximate 1.5 million foreign workers are in the United States on temporary employment visas. Due to issues such as government processing times, limitations on periods of stay and travel-related issues, employers often are faced with problems involving continuity of work and gaps in employment authorization.

In an earlier article, we wrote about changes specific to the F-1 student visa guidance that affect travel for visa issuance. However, there are a number of additional current reasons for employers to be concerned when foreign national employees are traveling abroad.

Russian-imposed visa pause

The Russian government has imposed a visa issuance cap on the U.S. mission in Russia. Accordingly, the Department of State recently announced it would suspend the issuance of nonimmigrant visas in Russia as of Aug. 23, 2017.

On August 21, 2017, the U.S. mission began canceling nonimmigrant visa appointments. As of September 1, 2017, any nonimmigrant visa interviews can only take place in Moscow. Nonimmigrant visa interviews at U.S. consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice. Anyone needing to travel to Russia for visa stamping for the remainder of the year should consider postponing that travel or attempting to process the visa stamp in a different country.

Foreign nationals lawfully in the United States are generally permitted to process visa stamps in Canada or Mexico as third-country nationals. Individuals not eligible to process as third-country nationals should immediately call the post in Moscow to schedule their appointments.

I-131 Advance Parole denials

Foreign nationals who have pending Adjustment of Status (Green Card applications) will generally abandon those applications unless they obtain Advance Parole. Exceptions to this rule include individuals who have valid H-1B and L-1 visas.

While the instructions do state that “[i]f you depart the United States before the Advance Parole Document is issued, your application for an Advance Parole Document will be considered abandoned,” historically this has not been the actual practice of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Individuals who had a valid Advance Parole, an H-1B or an L-1 could travel outside the United States while an I-131 application was pending without it being denied. The American Immigration Lawyers Association, however, recently has been receiving reports that USCIS has been denying these applications for abandonment.

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