If you have a green card, you may travel freely within the United States. However, if you plan to travel outside of the country there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Here are the rules for traveling with a green card.
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You can use your Green Card to travel outside the United States and return, as long as you follow the rules. Here are some things you need to know and do before you go.
Applying for a Green Card
You may apply for a Green Card in one of two ways:
-Through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or
-Through your job if you are an employee of a U.S. company
The Green Card Process
The Green Card process can be an exciting but long journey. While it may seem like the process takes forever, it is important to remember that a Green Card grants you the right to live and work permanently in the United States. The Green Card process can be broken down into a few different stages:
1. Applying for a Green Card: The first step in the process is to submit an application to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).
2. Receiving a notice of action: Once USCIS receives your application, they will send you a notice of action. This notice will let you know that your application has been received and is being processed.
3. Interview: After your application has been processed, you will be required to attend an interview with a USCIS officer. During this interview, the officer will ask you questions about your application and background.
4. Receiving your Green Card: Once you have completed the interview, USCIS will review your application and decide whether or not to approve it. If approved, you will receive your Green Card in the mail.
After You Receive Your Green Card
After you receive your green card, you are free to travel outside the United States and return, as long as you do not stay outside of the country for more than one year at a time. If you stay outside of the country for more than one year, you may be considered to have abandoned your permanent resident status.
Traveling on a Green Card
If you have a green card (officially known as a Permanent Resident Card), you’re allowed to live and work permanently in the United States. You can also travel in and out of the country, although there are some restrictions.
As a general rule, you should carry your green card with you whenever you travel outside the United States. However, if you’re traveling to Canada, Mexico, or certain adjacent islands, you may be able to present other documents instead. For more information, see Green Card Travel: Documents You Need.
If your green card will expire soon, make sure to renew it before you travel For more information on renewing your green card, see Green Card Renewal.
Note: If you have a conditional green card (valid for only two years), you cannot renew it. However, you can apply to remove the conditions on your green card if you meet certain requirements. For more information on removing conditions from your green card, see Removing Conditions on a Green Card Through Marriage.
Renewing or Replacing Your Green Card
If you are a permanent resident of the United States (i.e. have a “green card”), you are allowed to travel outside of the country. However, if you plan to be gone for more than six months, you will need to get a “reentry permit”.
A reentry permit allows you to stay outside of the United States for up to two years and is renewable. To get a reentry permit, you will need to file an application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If your green card expires while you are outside of the United States, you will need to replace it before returning. You can do this by mail or by visiting a USCIS office in person.
Losing Your Green Card
You can lose your green card in a number of ways, including:
If you are convicted of a crime of moral turpitude
If you abandon your permanent residency
If you are removed from the United States after a formal hearing before an immigration judge
If you voluntarily give up your green card
Other Travel Documents for Green Card Holders
If you are a permanent resident or conditional permanent resident of the United States, you may leave and return to the United States with your green card However, you should carry your Green Card with you whenever you travel outside the United States, as you will need to present it to immigration authorities when you seek readmission to the United States.
There are other travel documents that may also be used by green card holders to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad, including:
-Refugee Travel Document
-Advance Parole Document
Resources for Green Card Holders
If you are a permanent resident of the United States (holder of a Green Card), you can travel outside the country and return, as long as you have your passport and green card with you.
You should keep the following in mind when planning international travel:
-You must have a valid passport to return to the United States. If your passport expires while you are outside the United States, you will need to renew it at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
-You should carry your Green Card (permanent resident card) with you whenever you travel outside the United States, even if you plan to return on the same day. If you do not have your Green Card with you, you may be denied boarding at your departure airport or be unable to re-enter the United States upon your return.
-If your Green Card will expire within six months of your planned return to the United States, please carry evidence of your pending application for renewal or replacement of your card. For more information on applying for a new or replacement Green Card, please visit USCIS’ website: https://www.uscis.gov/renew-or-replace-your-green-card
Q: Do I need a visa to travel to the United States?
A: That depends. If you are a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you do not need a visa for business or pleasure travel of 90 days or less within the United States. However, you will need to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to your trip.
If you are not a citizen of a country that participates in the VWP, or if you plan to stay in the United States for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. For more information, please see our visas page.
Q: Can I use my green card to travel?
A: Yes. If you have been granted lawful permanent resident status in the United States, you will be issued a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), also called a green card. You can use your green card to travel outside the United States and return as long as you continue to meet all the requirements for lawful permanent residence. For more information on traveling with a green card, please see our Green Card Holders page.