International Travel Regulations for Green Card Holders

Permanent residents of the United States holding an official passport from their country of citizenship and a Green Card are able to enter and exit the country at any time. Permanent residents that have exited the U.S. and are returning to the country after traveling abroad must present a green card Form I-551 verification of status. All permanent residents must exhibit proper identification on arrival at a U.S. port of entry. The entry process includes reviewing a resident’s documents (i.e. foreign national I.D. card, passport, or U.S. Driver’s License) by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer.

Reentry Process

Entry exemption may be made if it is discerned that the person claiming to hold permanent resident status did not intend to make the U.S. their permanent home. Abandonment of permanent resident status excludes persons from entry to the United States on a Form I-551 Permanent Resident Status green card. The rules to absence from the United States by a permanent resident provide for travel for up to one year without inquiry about the abandonment of permanent resident status.

During entry, a Customs and Border Protection Officer may consider whether a traveler’s intention was to visit abroad temporarily or to remain outside of the country. Whether a visitor has sustained family ties in the United States, and other resident activities on record such as employment, income tax records, and a permanent resident address will inform the review of permanent resident status.

Maintaining a mailing address, bank accounts, or a driver’s license is often proof of residency intent. If a visitor owns property or a business in the country, those records exhibit intent to remain in the United States, followed by temporary absence.

Other Considerations

Travelers seeking point of entry status as a permanent resident of the United States that have been outside of the country for more than one year are advised to apply for a reentry permit. The reentry of a former permanent resident requires submission of a Form I31. The re-entry permit application can be submitted by a resident prior to travel departure.

Pre-departure application allows for a permanent resident or those with status as a conditional permanent resident to re-enter the country without application to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Reentry permits do not guarantee entry into the country on return. Admissibility may be subject to review; resulting in verification of the party’s intent of permanent residence in the United States upon entry.

Permanent residents remaining outside of the United States for a period of more than two years will not have access to express entry. If reentry was granted prior to departure from the United States, the expiration date on the permit will have passed. It is recommended that former permanent residents apply for a visa SB-1 prior to entry at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Returning resident visas are a separate class of entry from tourist visas, and those issued for student or business stays with a limited term of up to six months on arrival.


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Posted on May 5, 2023