Worried about your travel restrictions as a US green card holder?


As a US green card holder some travel regulations exists when compared to those of a US citizen who can travel freely.   As a lawful permanent resident you would need to present a passport from your home country or if a refugee a travel document is required to travel to a foreign country. This is apart from what the foreign country requirements such as a visa.

Documents needed to reenter US

A valid unexpired “green card” (Form I-551, permanent resident card) is required if you are returning to US after temporary travel abroad.  At the POE (point of entry) US customs and border protection officer would review the LPR card in addition to other identification documents like passport, home country I.D card or US driver’s license and decide about your entry into United States.

Green card status while traveling abroad

Temporary or brief stay abroad doesn’t affect the green card status. You will be found to have deserted your lawful permanent resident (LPR) status if it’s determined that you did not intend to make United States your permanent home. Your absence from US for more than a year is used as a general guide. If it’s believed that you did not intend to make US your permanent residence abandonment may be found to occur even in trips abroad of less than a year’s duration.

Generally short term trips are not considered problematic by the officer who may consider your intention of trips abroad was on temporary stay, if you maintained family and community ties back with US, if United States employment was maintained, as a lawful permanent resident you paid taxes, or otherwise time-honored your intention to return to US as your permanent home. Maintenance of your United States mailing address, maintaining United States banking account, and driver’s license, owned property or continued doing business in US, or any such factors which supported short term absence from US may also be considered.

Conditions to follow for abroad trips of more than a year’s duration

Important to use the Form I-131 to apply for reentry permit travel document to United States if you plan to stay outside US for more than a year. Before leaving US reentry permit should be got which allows the lawful permanent or conditional resident to apply for admission back into the United States during the two years of validity of the permit with no requirement for a returning resident visa from a US consulate or embassy abroad. But having a reentry permit doesn’t give assurance for entry back to US after you return since it has to be determined if you are admissible at that time though it helps you in proving your intention  to return back to the United States and stay permanently.

The reentry permit obtained before exiting United States would have expired if you stay outside US for more than two years.  At the nearest Unites States embassy or consulate, it’s advisable a in that case for you to apply for a returning resident visa (SB-1).

To establish eligibility for an immigrant visa the returning resident visa will be required and for that you would have a medical examination. If you are a member of the US armed forces or on official orders you are a civilian employee stationed outside US in that case there is exception for the LPR’s spouse and children.

Also the requirement for continuous residency which is required to apply for US citizenship is disrupted while you are absent from US for more than six months. In order to preserve your residence for Applying for US citizenshiplater you can file the application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes using Form N-470.

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