Can I Travel Before I Receive My Green Card?

You can travel before you receive your green card, but there are a few things you need to know before you go. Get the facts on traveling with a pending green card application.

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You may have heard that you need a green card to travel. While it’s true that a green card allows you to live and work in the United States permanently, you can actually travel before you receive your green card. In fact, if you are awaiting your green card or have already applied for one, there are a few ways you can still travel.

Applying for a Green Card

You can apply for a Green Card (permanent residence) in one of two ways: through sponsorships by U.S. Family Members or U.S. Employers, or through the Diversity Visa (Green Card) Lottery Program. The first way is by far the most common, with sponsorships accounting for well over 90% of all Green Cards issued each year. The second way, the DV Lottery Program, is open to everyone, but only 50,000 immigrant visas are available each year through this program so it is very competitive.

The Green Card Interview

The green card interview is a key step in the process of getting a green card. If you are applying for a green card, you will need to attend an interview with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

The purpose of the interview is to confirm that you are eligible for a green card and that you meet all the requirements. USCIS will also use the interview to decide whether you are likely to become a public charge (i.e. dependent on welfare).

You should therefore be prepared to answer questions about your employment, education, financial situation, and other aspects of your life. You may also be asked about your plans for the future, including your plans to return to your home country.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, they will usually be required to attend the interview with you. This is so USCIS can confirm that your marriage is genuine and not just a way to get a green card.

After You Receive Your Green Card

You will receive your conditional permanent resident card valid for 2 years. 90 days before your card expires, you must apply to remove the conditions on your residence. If your conditions are not removed, your status will expire and you will no longer be a permanent resident.

Traveling on a Green Card

If you have applied for a green card and are waiting for it to be approved, you may be wondering if you can travel outside of the United States. The short answer is yes, you can travel while your green card application is pending. However, there are some things you need to keep in mind before you book your trip.

First, you will need to have a valid passport from your country of origin. If your passport will expire while you are away, you may have difficulty returning to the United States. It is also a good idea to have a copy of your green card application or receipt notice with you when you travel. This will help prove to immigration officials that you are in the process of obtaining a green card.

If you plan on traveling by air, keep in mind that most airlines will not allow you to board unless they think you will be able to return home. This means that they may require you to have a return ticket or proof of funds before they will let you board the plane.

It is also important to remember that just because your green card application is pending does not mean that you have legal status in the United States. If your application is denied, you will no longer have permission to stay in the country and could be deported if caught by immigration officials. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before traveling outside the United States with a pending green card application.

Applying for a Passport

If you are in the United States on a valid visa, you may travel before you receive your green card. However, you will need to apply for a passport from your country of citizenship.

Renewing Your Green Card

If your green card expires, you can renew it by submitting a Form I-90 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You will need to submit this form along with the appropriate fee and supporting documents. Once USCIS approves your renewal, you will receive a new green card valid for 10 years.

Losing Your Green Card

If you are a permanent resident who needs to travel outside the United States, you should carry your green card with you to show your legal status in the United States. If you do not have your green card with you, you may be detained by U.S. officials and returned to your last place of residency in the United States. You may also be delayed in returning to the United States if you cannot prove your legal status.

If your green card is lost or stolen while you are outside the United States, you should report the loss or theft to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate immediately. You will need to get a new green card before you can return to the United States.

Traveling with a Green Card

You can travel before you receive your green card, but only if you have a valid passport, a granted advance parole, and a copy of your I-94 form. An I-94 is an arrival/departure record that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer should give you when you enter the U.S. If you lose your I-94, you can get a replacement from the CBP.


If you are a legal permanent resident of the United States, you may travel outside of the country and return using your Green Card. However, if you plan to be away for more than one year, you will need to obtain a reentry permit before leaving.

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