By: Katherine On: December 8, 2016 In: Uncategorized Comments: 29
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Green card holders are permitted to travel internationally, but United States Citizenship and Immigration Services keeps an eye on how long permanent residents are out of the country — and these regulations have become stricter.

Green card holders cannot travel outside of the US for more than one year without a reentry permit.

What are the penalties for spending too much time outside of the US, and how can green card holders travel with more security?

Green Card Holder Travel Documents

Green card holders generally need a passport from their country of citizenship or a refugee travel document in order to travel to another country. If the country you are traveling to speaks a language which is not on your passport, getting a passport translation may be a good idea.

Foreign counties may also have additional requirements, such as a visa.

Green Card Holders: Establishing Continuous Physical Presence

Green card holders are required to “establish continuous physical presence” in order to maintain legal status.

Continuous physical presence is established by showing that there was no intent to abandon the green card and that the lawful permanent resident has maintained his or her ties in the US.

Green card holders can prove US ties through documents showing that they own a home or rent an apartment, or through financial and legal documents such as bank account statements and tax returns. However, it becomes far more difficult to prove US ties when the green card holder has been traveling abroad for more than one year.

Voluntary Departure & Starting Over

When a green card holder’s absence exceeds one year, he or she may be placed in removal proceedings. Once in removal proceedings, most people will have the option of requesting voluntary departure.

Voluntary departure allows the green card holder to give up his or her green card and any current applications that USCIS may be processing. Then the green card holder is free to go back to his or her home country.

If the request for voluntary departure is granted, then the process for a green card starts anew. For many, this is the best option, as there are no restrictions as to how soon one can reapply for a new green card after they voluntarily depart.

However, if voluntary departure is selected, the green card holder forfeits the right to present a defense to removal, such as asylum, withholding of removal, cancellation of removal, a petition through a family member or any other motions.

It is also very important when voluntary departure is granted that the green card holder leaves the United States on the specified date, otherwise a ban on reentering the United States may take effect. It could be up to 10 years before he or she can return.

Green Card Holder Travel Precautions

Green card holders can take precautions if they plan to travel outside of the United States for an extended period of time.

The primary and most effective way to be outside the United States for more than one year is obtaining a reentry permit.

A reentry permit can be issued by filling out Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. When granted, this document allows green card holders to be out of the country for up to two years without disrupting their continuous physical presence requirement.

Be aware that a reentry permit is different from an advance parole document (also applied for by filling out Form I-131), which merely lets you travel for a short period of time while your green card is pending.

Green Card Holder Travel May Affect Naturalization

Green card holders who wish to travel and one day apply for citizenship need to take an extra step.

According to USCIS, “absences from the United States of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency required for naturalization.”

If you are traveling but would like to upkeep your permanent residency for naturalization purposes, you should file Form N-470, an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.

Many green card holders who exceed a one-year travel period without proper documentation are being placed in removal proceedings for failure to maintain continuous physical presence inside the United States.

The possibility of losing a green card due to travel is real. Green card holders who plan to travel must take preventative steps to ensure they’re aware of what steps to take to prevent problems upon their return to the US.

Note: This page is for general informational purposes only. LLS cannot give personal advice to any individual regarding immigration status. Please contact USCIS with any questions.

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Perla O.Balagot
2 years ago

I’m a green card holder for 11 years I would like to visit my mother this Dec.& come back jan.3,2019.Is there no problem to come back because some people told me that if I’m green card holder I can’t come back to NY already is that true.How can I get my answer pls let me know if this is true thank you. I don’t have any crime records.

Tariq Shah
1 year ago

Check with a immigration lawyer, but green card holders can travel without a problem for short trips usually but I am not a lawyer, just speaking from my personal experience.

2 years ago

My bro’s family is coming to the US next year. Two of her daughters is still in high school. My question is…
is it okay if the two girls stay in the US for 1 month only then come back to the US after they graduate HighSchool which is less than 6months for the eldest & 2 yrs for the younger daughter.

2 years ago

I am illegible to apply for citizenship immediately after a trip less than 6 month can I apply for citizenship?

1 year ago

Please I have been a green card holder for 9 years and next year it would expire in December. I want to travel for 2-3 weeks to go visit my sick father but am afraid if I will be allowed to come back to the United States again. Please can someone tell me if I can be allowed to enter into the US when I go. Or should I stay back without traveling. Please this is an emergency for me.

jairo Gonzalez Alvarado
1 year ago

evry green car holder that want to travel can do it but no more than 6 month if u need more than 6 months out of the country u may lose your green card

11 months ago

Hi I’m just wondering if you have The answer for your question because I’m about to do the same please reply if you have a answer

1 year ago

A valid lawful permanent resident (LPR) card, also known as an I-551 card or green card, is required for boarding a flight to the United States and for re-admission at a CBP port of entry. A passport is not generally required for re-entry to the United States, unless the LPR has a valid I-551 passport stamp in lieu of the LPR card.

LPRs can generally re-enter the United States without an issue if the international travel was less than 365 days in a row. However, there are exceptions that will likely cause a referral to secondary inspection:

• Staying outside of the United States for 180 days consecutively
• Established record of regularly staying outside of the United States for 180 consecutive days or more
• Staying outside of the United States for 365 consecutive days or more without prior approval

Traveling out of the United States for more than one year, but less than two years continuously, requires application for a re-entry permit (I-327) through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your departure from the United States. Re-entry permit information is available at the following USCIS link: See to apply for a re-entry permit using the USCIS Form 1-131 Application for Travel Document.

Travel out of the United States for more than two years continuously requires a returning resident visa. You can apply for a returning resident visa at a United States embassy or consulate before making plans to return to the United States. See for United States embassy contact information.

1 year ago


Farshid Esmali
1 year ago

Hi, I have Iranian passport and USA permanent Green card, planning to travel to the UK with UK Visa for vacation for 15 days, is there any restriction coming back to USA?

1 year ago

Hello Guys.

My Parents has Green card but after staying for 3months in USA they went back to home country (India) as my mom was not feeling well n underwent treatment in India. Its been 3.5yrs they are there in India n now want to come back to USA.

My questions :
What will happen if they try to enter in USA after 3.5yrs ? We dint apply for Re-Entry permit that time.
Will they allow to board the flight at Home country (Indian) airport and at any layover airport??
Will they give entry at US border ? (We dont hv Re-entry permit or anything but we have documents to show that my mom was sick and was under treatment in USA as well as in India )

Could anyone suggest/ give inputs on this if someone has gone thru this kind of situation?


Dan Haines
10 months ago

Since getting her green card a few years ago, my mother in law has established a pattern of staying overseas for over 180 days (but less than 365 days) at a time. She is about to return to the U.S. after staying overseas 11.5 months. Should she visit the local U.S. embassy in the foreign country before coming back? Is there anything she could do now to help not jeopardize her green card? Or is it possible at this point, to request a re-entry permit at her local embassy?