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Can You Afford to Stay Out of the US for 6-12 Months?

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Can you afford to stay out of the United States for six or nine months? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, Missouri, San Diego, California, and Washington D.C. Today, we're talking about traveling abroad. So, I'm recording this at the end of July, early August, 2021. And we have been hearing story after story after story, about people who think they are so smart that they can leave the United States and not have any problems. Some of these people are visa holders. Some of these people are H1B visa holders. Some of these people have green cards. We've seen all kinds of people get stuck outside the United States. Just today, we were contacted by the owner of a medical practice. One of his doctors is from Egypt and he decided to go back home for Eid. Eid is a religious holiday celebrated in Muslim countries.

And he decided to go back home for a week or two, just to celebrate Eid with his family in the middle of a pandemic. And when he tried to board a plane in Jordan to come back to the United States, he was not allowed on the plane. And they're not letting him enter the United States. And they told him that he's not to be allowed into the United States. So, this is the kind of power that they have at the border. This is the kind of power they have at the embassies. If you think you're going overseas to get a visa stamp, or if you think you're just going home to celebrate a religious holiday, you are setting yourself up for a major problem. And here's the thing that I tell people, the chances of a problem might be very small. Let's say it's a 1 out of a 100 or even a 1 out of 1000 chance that when you travel overseas, that something happens in your home country.

Maybe there's a war. Maybe there's a pandemic outbreak. Maybe the embassy decides they don't want to let you come to the United States anymore. Maybe something has been flagged in your file, since the last time you went to the embassy. And they don't let you into the United States. Can you afford to be out of the United States for six months, seven months, nine months, a year? Most people can't. So, when people contact our office and say, "Jim, should I go overseas?" I say, "At this particular point in time, do everything you can to stay in the United States. Do not leave the United States." Now, with green card holders and U.S. citizens, you have a little bit more protection. So, green card holders can probably feel a little bit more comfortable leaving the United States, but due to the pandemic and the country by country analysis that's happening, as to whether or not certain people are allowed into the United States and certain people are not. I think you really have to think twice about leaving the United States and about the possibility, however small it might be, that you're not allowed back in.

So like I said, it might be a 1 in 100 or 1 in a 1000 chance, but the consequences of being kept out of the United States are huge. So you really need to factor all of that in, in deciding whether or not it makes sense to go back home for a religious holiday or to get a visa stamp, or for some other reason/ the fact is, the State Department and CBP, Customs and Border Patrol, have almost 100% complete discretion on who they allow into the United States and who they keep out. There's no real mechanism to appeal, no higher authority to challenge that. You can try to get help from various officials like members of Congress, but the chances of that actually working are extremely small. So, in answer to my initial question, can you afford to stay out of the United States for 6, 9 or 12 months?

You have to ask yourself, "Can I? Can I really afford that? What would happen to my job? What would happen to my home?" And you have to take that into consideration when you decide whether or not to leave. I hope that makes sense. I hope that gives you pause. I hope you think through whether it makes sense for you to leave the United States, even for just a little bit. If you have questions about this, give us a call 314-961-8200. You can email us info at Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. We'd love to have you in there. We have immigrants in there every single day, answering and talking about immigration issues of the day. And then of course we have our YouTube channel, where we're shooting videos and answering immigration questions. And speaking of immigration questions, we're live on Tuesdays and Thursdays, usually at noon central, answering as many of your immigration law related questions as possible. And we hope to see you there. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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