How Long Can Green Card Holders Travel Outside the US?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCIS) establishes specific regulations for international travel as a permanent resident and regulates green card holders’ travel outside the US. Current regulations permit green card holders to leave and return to the United States multiple times per year:
If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may leave the U.S. multiple times and reenter, as long as you do not intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more.
If you intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, you must apply for a re-entry permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to leaving the U.S.
This 1-year rule creates a rebuttable presumption that you intended to abandon your residency. However, under the law, only an immigration judge can officially terminate your legal permanent residency.
Absences of less than one year may also result in an accusation that you abandoned your residency if you live and work abroad but visit the U.S. every year.
If presented with a challenge by a CBP officer upon returning to the United States, you should insist on seeing an immigration judge or speaking to an immigration attorney prior to signing any form I-407 record of abandonment of your legal permanent residency.
You may still be able to remain a lawful permanent resident even in instances where you have signed a form I-407 record of abandonment of law permanent residency or surrendered your green card. A skilled attorney could assess your circumstances during a private consultation, so reach out to schedule an appointment.
A Green Card Is a Travel Document
A green card is a document to help you prove your legal permanent residency and also serves as a travel document that allows you to enter in and out of the United States. If your green card is expired, it may be difficult to travel or work. Most green cards are valid for 10 years and you should file for renewal 6 months before it expires. If you lose your Green Card or it is stolen or destroyed while you are traveling abroad, you may need to file a Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation) to authorize international travel via airline, train or water.
Watch: What to Do If Your Green Card Expires
United States immigration laws are complicated and updated frequently. Mistakes in immigration applications can be costly and stressful and can result in denial of your petition or delays. An experienced immigration attorney at Godoy Law Office in Cook and Dupage Counties, Illinois, Illinois, can review your Green Card eligibility and application or renewal. We review your situation, provide you with the proper forms and help you submit your application. Contact our office or call us to learn more about your options.