Green Card and Traveling Outside the USA

Once you become a permanent U.S resident, or get а TN 1 Visa, traveling abroad and back is easier. The new status of Legal Permanent resident (LPR) makes things easier. You will no longer be worried about expiration issues. However, you should be careful to maintain your American immigration status. Beware that having that green card does not mean there will be no restrictions. For example, your absence from the U.S. contributes to the decision to determine whether your intentions are becoming to attain a naturalized citizen. The general rule is that with a green card status, you cannot stay away for more than a year. However, this does not mean that there it is applicable to everyone at any time. Other contributing factors determine how long you can travel outside US.

Here are some of the key issues you must know to avoid jeopardizing your citizenship and relationship with the immigration authorities.


Passport from your Country of Origin and U.S Green Card

After you obtain your US green card, you will need to carry along your foreign passport whenever you travel. This passport will be used to enter other countries, as the green card alone is not sufficient to allow you entry into other countries. It is enough to get you back into the US but this is the only place you will be allowed entry. Remember that you must present a valid, unexpired green card upon to the United States every time you arrive. If you are leaving for more than a year, you will need a re-entry permit. Ensure that you secure it before leaving the country or you will lose the credibility of your status.

Maintaining your U.S Residence

It may seem simple and obvious but maintaining your home in the United States is important when traveling out of the country. If there is any indication or evidence showing you might be settling outside the United States appears, you will lose your status as an LPR. This is easily detectable by how long you stay outside of the U.S. If, for example, you spend less than a year as prescribed, it may show you have come back home. However, this is not enough evidence of your intention to make the U.S your permanent home. You may lose your U.S residency immediately you leave any indication of moving to another country. Some of the factors included in the investigation include your home, where you work, your car registration, and where your family leaves. These are just some of the indicators to your intents. Staying away for more than six months will subject you to an interrogation and questioning upon your return. Staying away for more than a year is, however, the clearest proof, you have decided to vacate the U.S and relocate to where you are staying. The best option would be to stay within the country as much as you can to avoid suspicion until you obtain the permanent resident status.

Losing your Green Card during Travel

As soon as your green card is lost while outside the U.S, you need to report to the nearest U.S embassy or consulate. You will obtain a U.S Government Transportation Letter. This document will serve as a temporal replacement upon reentry to the U.S. In case the green card was stolen, you should first, report to the local authorities to obtain a police report. This report will prove to the officers that you are acting in good faith and that; you may not have sold your card. This is not all; you will be filling the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card and pay the appropriate fee during reentry.

The Possibility of Being Found Inadmissible Upon Return

The ability to travel internationally as a green card holder is challenging and may affect your status. Since you did your best to prove your credibility and admissibility, you need to maintain their confidence. Your credibility was based on criminal records, health conditions, the likelihood of becoming a public charge and so forth. Under certain circumstances, the grounds for inadmissibility are revisited during reentry. Some of the issues taken into consideration are; your absence from the U.S for a period exceeding 180 days, engage in illegal activity outside of the U.S, traveled while in the removal of extradition proceedings, or abandoned your status as an LPR. Other issues including attempting reentry via an unrecognized entry point or time.


It is important to study and learn green card travel restrictions to know how to stay safe from trouble with immigration. Green Card holder travel is more complicated than you may think. It is easy to lose your status as a resident after making mistakes about traveling outside the country and staying too long or losing your card.