Can You Leave the U.S. After I-140 Approval and Return When Your Priority Date Is Current?

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Shawn Sedaghat, Esq.

Are you curious if you can leave the U.S. after your I-140 form approval and return once your priority date becomes current? Many immigrants share this concern, uncertain about the impact on their future permanent resident status.

This guide sheds light on what leaving the country means for your adjustment of status attempt and how to manage your immigration process smoothly from abroad.

Key Points

  • Leaving the U.S. After I-140 Approval: You can leave the U.S., but you must have a valid visa or advance parole to return.
  • Priority Date: Leaving the country won’t affect your priority date, but previous unlawful presence in the U.S. could impact your application.
  • Job Transfer: Inform your new employer about your immigration status if you change jobs after I-140 approval.
  • Travel Risks and Benefits: Risks include difficulties returning without proper documentation; benefits might include personal or business needs.

Understanding I-140 Form Approval

The I-140 form is a crucial step for immigrants seeking permanent residency through employment. It’s a petition from your employer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to classify you as eligible for an immigrant visa based on a job offer.

Approval of the I-140 does not grant you status by itself. Leaving the U.S. without another valid status or advance parole can have severe consequences, including bars to returning if you accrued unlawful presence in the U.S. Always consult with an immigration lawyer before deciding to leave the U.S. after your I-140 approval.

Can You Leave the U.S. After Filing for Adjustment of Status?

Leaving the U.S. after filing for adjustment of status without advance parole leads to the abandonment of that application. Even if the government mistakenly approves your application while you’re abroad, this approval is nullified by law. According to official guidance, if an applicant travels outside the U.S. during the processing of a change of status request, the application should be denied.

Leaving the U.S. After I-140 Approval

Upon securing approval for your I-140 form, understanding the legal consequences and the status of your priority date is crucial. Follow immigration protocols to ensure uninterrupted progress towards obtaining permanent residency.

Legal Considerations

To re-enter the U.S. legally after leaving, you need a valid visa or advance parole travel authorization if you’ve applied for adjustment of status. Unlawful presence exceeding 180 days or 365 days can result in a bar to being admitted for 3 or 10 years, respectively. Always consult with an immigration attorney before departure.

Impact on Priority Date

Your priority date, which determines your place in line for an immigrant visa, is not affected by leaving the country. However, if you haven’t filed your application for adjustment of status and obtained advance parole, you will likely need to go through consular processing later.

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Conditions for Returning to the U.S.

If you leave the U.S. after I-140 approval, you must meet several requirements to return and adjust your status:

  • Valid Immigrant Visa: Your priority date must be current.
  • Maintaining Intent: Demonstrate your intent to immigrate to the U.S.
  • Nonimmigrant Visa: You need a valid nonimmigrant visa for re-entry unless eligible for visa-free travel.
  • Advance Parole: Use it if granted before leaving the U.S.
  • Admissibility: Ensure you are admissible to the U.S.
  • Port of Entry Inspection: Undergo inspection by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.
  • Documentation: Carry necessary documents, including your passport, immigrant visa, Form I-94, Form I-797, and other relevant documents.

Consulting with an immigration attorney ensures you meet all requirements for re-entry and adjustment of status.

Maintaining Valid I-140 Petition

Keeping your I-140 petition valid is essential to avoid potential issues. Unlawful presence could complicate your return. Maintaining good standing and following all rules is crucial. Work closely with an immigration specialist to preserve your I-140 petition while outside the U.S.

Risks and Benefits of Traveling While I-140 is Pending

Traveling with a pending I-140 has both benefits and risks. Benefits include meeting family or handling business overseas, while risks involve potential abandonment of your application without the right travel documents and uncertainty about re-entry. Obtaining advance parole before departure is a safeguard, but border delays or issues can still arise.


You may leave the U.S. after I-140 approval, but ensure you understand the legal implications and have a plan for returning. Consult with your immigration attorney to avoid complications and keep your I-140 petition valid. Weigh the risks and benefits of traveling carefully.

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