By obtaining a green card, non-US citizens can live and work in the US as permanent residents. Individuals are able to travel outside the US and return; however, there are some laws regarding the timelines in which they can be gone. If an individual leaves the US and is gone for more than a year, they will be viewed as abandoning their residency in the US. This may lead to losing your green card and the right to gain entry into the US, work, and live where you once did.
How Do I Gain Re-Entry After Travel?
Each time you re-enter the US after travel, you will be asked detailed questions about your time away and your intentions for re-entry. It can feel similar to the original entry into the US in that officials will want to ensure that you don’t pose a security risk by entering the US. They may ask questions to identify your ties to the US, whether that be bank accounts, employment, family, or more.
What is a Re-Entry Permit?
One option is to apply for a re-entry permit. This allows individuals to travel outside the US for more than one year, but less than two, with an approved permit. This avoids the individual from abandoning their permanent residency and being required to obtain a new visa. The permit may be sent to a US Embassy or Consulate abroad for pick up if you indicate this on your application. Individuals can choose to leave the US before their application is approved.
What if I am Gone Less Than a Year?
If an individual carries a valid green card and is gone for less than a year outside the US, they will obtain entry through customs and continue through the normal process. It is incredibly beneficial to the individual to carry on them their green card, visa documents, travel itinerary, and any other necessary documents such as medical information or proof of ties to the US (US address, bank account information, employment information) that can make this process more straightforward and therefore less time-consuming.
If your green card has been stolen, lost, or damaged, you can apply for a Boarding Foil, and if approved will allow you transport to the US. There can be some supporting documents that would avoid requiring you to apply for a Boarding Foil. Examples can include a valid re-entry permit, an expired Permanent Resident Card, and more.
Traveling back and forth from the US with a green card can raise concerns for Customs and Border Patrol if you don’t have adequate documentation. It is imperative that you follow the laws in place to avoid having your green card and loss of Lawful Permanent Resident Status. Contact me at 407-499-5680 with your specific questions and learn more about how I can assist you with your questions.