Individuals who want to work and reside permanently in the U.S. may file Form I-485 to file for a green card. The green card allows you to live and work indefinitely in the U.S. It’s the first step in acquiring citizenship of the country.

A question frequently asked is if you are able to work and travel while an application for permanent residency is in process.

It’s important to maintain legal status while in the United States. Maintaining legal status becomes even more important when waiting to receive a green card from the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Non-immigrants in America who have filed Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, have to remain in the country until the USCIS approves their application for a green card.

However, the application process can take several months to even years to complete.

Work and Travel While Awaiting Approval

If you want to work in the U.S. while your application for permanent status is pending, you may need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization Document, to obtain a work permit. However, in order to do so, you need to have a visa that allows you to work in the U.S.

In order to travel, according to immigration laws, you need to apply for advance permission to leave the country. This is known as “Advance Parole” in immigration terminology. You can gain advance parole from USCIS by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to obtain permission to travel abroad while awaiting approval.

If you Want to Move While Awaiting Approval

An applicant can inform the central USCIS office if they want to move while in the U.S. You can inform USCIS about change of address by filing form AR-11. It is important to inform the USCIS of change of address of all non-U.S. citizens who are aged 14 or over and who remain in the U.S. for more than 30 days.