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Immigration Issues/Question on green card


Hello Eileen.

I have a close friend in California who has been living there since the early
90s. She came from the Philippines as a student and applied for a green card.
She has attended college and looking for new opportunites. Since that time,
she has accomplished a great many things and everything has been lovely
until she received a phone call from the Philippines from her father. She had
just learn that her mother suddenly passed away from cancer. Her father told
her that if she could find some way to attend the funeral, he will extend the
funeral viewing prior to burial but the problem is, if my friend goes to the
Philippines now for the funeral, she would not be able to come back to the
US. To ensure that she will return to the US she has to wait at least eight
months for her green card.

Are any loopholes and exceptions in her case where she can go to the
Philippines despite not having her green card approved yet so she can pay
her final respects to her mom? If you can't help, could you at least point me in
the right direction? Thanks.

Best regards,


Eileen Chun-Fruto, Los Angeles immigration attorney writes:

Dear Julian,

Good of you to make this inquiry for your friend.  However, I don't have enough information on her case to give you a meaningful response (which I want to do!).  Generally, people who are awaiting their  greencards can leave if they have a travel permit.  But if she's ever been out of status in the US (even for one day), she will not be issued a travel permit.

I know she's been here for many years but who has she applied for legal permanent residence status? It sounds like she's in the middle of waiting for her greencard.  It may have been through an application through marrying a US citizen, or through work, but the procedures are different and it actually sounds like to me that she can't travel until she has her greencard in hand.

If she's still processing and she leaves, she'll be in a world of trouble because she may need to apply for a waiver to return because (1) her greencard application will be considered abandoned if she leaves before it is approved (2) because she's been in the US for so long and is just now getting her greencard, she may be considered an overstay (3) and because of this overstay will have to apply for a 'I-601 waiver' because she'll be considered "inadmissible."

When people call USCIS and ask for information, a lot of information given can be misleading and if the operator or customer service rep who answered the question didn't ask you the right questions, it'll just be wrong altogether.  I fear that if your friend leaves, it won't be just for 8 months, but she'll be banned for 10 years if she was ever out of status for more than 180 days.  And she'll need a waiver to get around that 10 year bar.  

I would have to know more before I could say what are her options really might be.  I'm sorry to hear of the death in her family, but the USCIS and the Embassy abroad will not be very sympathetic.  This is just the law.

I am happy to hear more.  Good luck and feel free to follow up with additional questions.

Eileen Chun-Fruto

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Eileen Chun-Fruto


I can answer any employment-based immigration question including questions about PERM labor certifications, H-1B skilled workers, L-1A multinational managers or executives and L-1B specialized knowledge, R-1 and I-360 religious workers, investor cases (E Treaty Trader and E Treaty Investors and EB-5 "million dollar investors") and O-1 extraordinary ability cases. I can also answer any questions regarding family-based immigration, such as adoptions, waiver cases, consular processing (using foreign consulates to enter as an immigrant), marriage and fiance/fiancee cases, 245(i) cases, VAWA (Violence Against Women's Act), battered spouses, and Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).


I have over 12 years of experience in business and family immigration. I was a former law clerk for the Executive Officer for Immigration Review (the immigration courts) in San Francisco and I current serve as the California Service Center's (CSC) liaison on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. I represent individuals and corporations alike, ranging from professionals in the high tech, science, liberal arts fields. I have a special niche in working with start-up companies and individuals with more complex immigration issues.

Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Executive Committee on Immigration

J.D., University of California at Davis - King Hall School of Law (1997) B.A., University of California at Irvine, cum laude (1994)

Awards and Honors
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008: Selected to Southern California Rising Star - Super Lawyers List (an honor shared by no more than 2.5% of the attorneys practicing in the entire Southern California region) Faculty/Moderator on various AILA and LACBA continuing legal education seminars in the following topics: H-1B, O-1, religious workers, business immigration visas

Past/Present Clients
My typical business clients can range from a start-up company, established engineering and software research and development companies, manufacturing, trade and distribution companies, public and private schools, and religious organizations. Family clients include spouses, parent-child petitions, siblings, naturalization, and most especially, representation of abandoned and neglected children viewed as orphans under the immigration law. I have represented many clients who relied on special provisions of the immigration law to preserve or "grandfather" benefits to family members in limited (and complicated) circumstances, to avoid re-application fees and longer waiting times.

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