The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must approve the application for AP prior to the individual’s departure from the United States if s/he travels outside the United States while his/her adjustment of status application is pending with USCIS and s/he will need to use the AP documents to reenter the U.S. If the individual is maintaining H or L status and departs the United States prior to the approval of the AP application, the individual must reenter in valid H or L status in order to maintain the adjustment of status application. If the individual is not in the U.S. pursuant to H or L status, s/he may not travel internationally until the AP application has been approved.
Although an individual must be physically in the United States when s/he submits an application for an AP document, the individual may travel outside the United States while an AP application to renew permission to travel is pending, but must return prior to the expiration date of the current AP document. If when an individual departs the U.S. s/he has received his/her renewal AP document and it is valid for a period of time from the expiration date of the current AP document, the individual must reenter the U.S. pursuant to the same AP document that was used/valid at the time of his/her departure from the U.S. (For example, the current AP expires on October 18, 2008. The renewal AP is valid from October 18, 2008 to October 17, 2009. The individual is leaving the U.S. on October 10, 2008. In this situation, although the renewal AP has been issued prior to departure from the U.S., the individual must reenter the U.S. prior to the expiration of the current AP on October 18, 2008.)
Please note that if an individual is submitting an AP document application for his/her initial AP, s/he cannot use that AP until it has been approved and issued by the USCIS. In addition, individuals in certain nonimmigrant statuses may not travel internationally until such time that they have obtained a valid AP document from the USCIS. Please see below for additional information about this travel restriction for certain nonimmigrants.
For the first trip outside the United States using a traditional paper AP document to reenter the U.S., the individual must bring the original AP documents in duplicate. Upon reentry into the United States, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Officer will stamp both traditional paper AP documents and retain one AP document for CBP records. The admission stamps on the traditional paper AP documents will bear an expiration date one year from the date of entry.
Note that this date is not relevant for status purposes or AP document validity purposes; the expiration date of the AP remains the date printed on the top of the AP document. In order to maintain the adjustment of status application, reentry to the United States must be completed prior to this AP document expiration date.
Also note that the CBP Officer must return the other stamped traditional paper AP document to the individual for subsequent travel; the individual may continue to present this AP document for reentry into the United States during the validity of the AP document.
Please further note that individuals holding a valid Combo Card will present the document to the CBP Officer and that same document will be returned by the CBP Officer to you.