Information for Green Card Holders before Traveling

Traveling across the globe may be commonplace and even necessary for many immigrants who have visas. However, it is necessary to understand critical information for green card holders before traveling out of the country. If you fail to take the proper steps, you could be unable to reenter the United States.

Traveling Outside the U.S.

Green card holders who wish to travel outside of the United States generally must hold a valid passport before traveling. The passport must be provided from the traveler’s homeland, or the country where the immigrant has citizenship. Additionally, the immigrant must meet the specific requirements of the country where they intend to travel. These requirements may vary from country to country.

Reentry into the U.S.

For trips that last less than a year, green card holders need to provide their valid permanent resident card (Form I-551) at the border, upon reentry. Additionally, the immigrant should have other forms of identification available to show at reentry. For example, the immigrant should provide their driver’s license, passport, and foreign national I.D. card, if they have these documents.

Traveling Outside the U.S. for Longer Than a Year

If you want to travel outside the United States for more than a year, you should apply for a reentry permit. The reentry permit is known as Form I-131. The permit provides admission to the United States, without having to get a returning resident visa from the U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Allow plenty of time for permit approval before you begin your journey. The permit does not automatically guarantee reentry, but it does show proof that you intend to return.

Maintaining Your Permanent Resident Status

It is essential to know that you must not abandon your permanent resident status. Abandonment may occur if you are away from the United States for a period of more than a year without a permit, or have allowed your permit to expire. The USCIS may consider your green card abandoned, and could deny reentry. Those who are absent for longer than two years should apply for a returning resident visa, SB-1. This is not necessary for children and those serving in the armed forces.

Green card holders should review the requirements for travel and reentry before they plan their trip, since they may change from time to time. It may be helpful to discuss your travel needs with an experienced immigration lawyer. Call the skilled immigration attorneys at Udall Shumway PLC to schedule a consultation today.