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Can you travel outside of the U.S. with a green card?

On Behalf of | May 18, 2024 | Immigration & Naturalization

When you get a green card, you become a permanent resident of the United States. You’re expected to continue living within the country. The United States government doesn’t give out green cards to those who are then simply going to return to their home country. The goal of the process is to allow people to remain within the U.S.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t travel. You may want to visit family back home. You may simply want to go on vacation or travel the world. Just like a native citizen of the United States, you are allowed to do so if you have a green card. 

Complications for long absences

If you stay abroad for an extended amount of time, it can create some additional complications. This doesn’t mean you can’t travel, but you do need to know what the process looks like.

For instance, if you are gone for more than 180 days in a row, then agents at the port of entry may ask you if you intend to stay in the U.S. moving forward. They may need some evidence of your intent to do so, such as proof of continuing employment.

Another example is if you are out of the country for more than 365 days consecutively. If you’ve been gone this long, you may need to use Form I-131, which is a re-entry permit. You have to apply for this permit in advance, not when you return to the port of entry. If you do not have the permit, then you may lose your permanent resident status.

You certainly don’t want to make any mistakes that would cost you your ability to live in the U.S. Be sure you know what legal steps to take to protect your goals.