Can Green Card Holders Travel?

Green cards – also known as permanent resident cards – are visas that allow immigrants to live and work in the United States. Immigrants must qualify for a green card and must continue to meet the criteria in order to obtain permanent residency status. The United States has made some changes to the immigration policy, making people wonder, can green card holders travel?

Traveling outside the United States

Green card holders are generally allowed to travel outside the United States for business or pleasure. However, the time spent away from the country is limited. If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, typically over one year, it is necessary to obtain a reentry permit. This ensures that you will be allowed back into the United States after traveling abroad.

Applying for a Reentry Permit

Before you leave the U.S. you must obtain a reentry permit. This proves your intention to return to your home in the United States. If you fail to get a reentry permit it may be assumed that you have abandoned your residence and your green card will become invalid. Submit Form I-131 at least 90 days before you plan to leave. You must include a copy of your green card, passport, photos, and an application fee.

Fulfilling Your U.S. Residency Requirements

It is important to keep in mind the requirements needed to fulfill your U.S. residency. As a green card holder, you must maintain residence in the United States. If you plant to travel abroad for longer than one year, you must obtain a re-entry permit before you leave. If you fail to maintain your residence or travel for a period that is too long, your green card may be invalidated. This could cause a confusing and difficult situation.

What to Do Before You Travel

Before you take a trip outside of the country you should prepare for your return. Make sure that you carry all of your legal documentation with you in case it is needed upon reentry. Carry the names and phone numbers of relatives and associates who can assist you if necessary. While you should be allowed to return, the situation for immigrant travel is particularly unstable at this time. Therefore, it is best to consult with an immigration attorney before you plan your trip.

Call the experienced lawyers at Udall Shumway PLC to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Green Card, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.