Tips for Traveling With a Green Card
Are you going to be traveling outside the United States and are worried about how it might affect your green card status? Don’t sweat it too much. Thankfully, traveling with a green card is a lot easier than traveling abroad on a visa. With a green card you are considered a permanent resident which affords you many of the same benefits as a citizen when traveling outside the United States.
Still, there are a few things you need to be aware of when traveling with a green card:
Bring Your Green Card and Passport
This may sound obvious, but whenever you leave the United States, be certain you bring your green card and passport with you. The reason is that you will need to show this to customs officials upon your return to the U.S.
A good idea is to make a copy of both documents and leave them with a close friend or family member in the United States. In case you lose one or both documents for any reason, you will still have proof of your U.S. residency status and will avoid being rejected entry into the U.S.
If you happen to be one of those early planners and you know well in advance that you’re going to be out of the country for over a year, but less than two years, then you can apply for what is called a reentry permit.
What a reentry permit does is that it lets officials know that you’re not giving up your immigrant or permanent residency status just because you are leaving the country for an extended period. What having a reentry permit does is it allows you to apply for admission to the U.S. without having to get a returning resident visa.
As with anything in immigration, it is best to apply for this as soon as possible to make sure that you receive it before you leave the country. However, you can also have these sent to a US consulate or embassy or DHS office abroad.
Maintain Your U.S. Residency
The point of getting a green card is to establish permanent residency for yourself in the United States. When traveling with a green card, a pitfall to avoid is giving up your status of residency. If you do, it will mean that you will have to go through the visa and green card application process all over again.
To make things easier, when traveling with a green card, be certain to make your intention known that you are not planning on changing residencies. As soon as you are intending on moving to another country, you can lose your green card status in the U.S.
Maintaining Residency for Citizenship Application
The process of citizenship usually comprises of being a permanent resident for at least five years. The only catch is that half of those five years must be spent inside the United States. To determine your eligibility for citizenship, you will be asked a series of questions by an immigration official about any vacations or extended stays outside of the U.S. during those five years.
On top of that, “continuity of residence” is important as well. If you have spent more than six months but less than a year outside of the U.S., you may be considered to have disrupted your residency. You can try to prove otherwise unless you are gone for over a year. In that case, you are automatically considered to have disrupted your residency and must begin the five year period over again.
The difference between this and abandoning your residence is that you can disrupt your residency without abandoning it. Additionally, disrupting your permanent residency does not mean you lose your green card like abandoning it does.
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The newsletters and articles found in this blog are offered only for general informational and educational purposes. They are not offered as and do not constitute legal advice or legal opinions.