International Travel as a Permanent Resident

What documents do I need to travel outside the United States?

You will need to present a passport from your country of citizenship or your refugee travel document to travel to a foreign country.  In addition, the foreign country may have additional entry/exit requirements. Please check what the specific requirements are in the country you are planning on traveling to in order to avoid any complications.

What documents do I need to present to reenter the United States?

If seeking to enter the United States after temporary travel abroad, you will need to present your valid Green card, also known as your permanent resident card. When arriving at a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will review your permanent resident card and any other identity documents you present such as:

  • a passport
  • foreign national I.D. card
  • U.S. Driver’s License

Once any of these documents are presented,   the decision will be made whether you are able to enter the U.S.

Does travel outside the United States affect my permanent resident status?

Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status.  But please keep in mind that a general guide used is whether you have been absent from the United States for more than a year. Abandonment may be found to occur in trips of less than a year where it is believed you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence.

What if my trip abroad will last longer than 1 year?

If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, it is advisable to first apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131. Obtaining a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.  Please note that it does not guarantee entry into the United States upon your return as you must first be determined to be admissible; however, it will assist you in establishing your intention to permanently reside in the United States.

Additionally, absences from the United States of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency required for naturalization.  If your absence is one year or longer and you wish to preserve your continuous residency in the United States for naturalization purposes, you may file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes on Form N-470.

What if I lose my green card or reentry permit or it is stolen or destroyed while I am temporarily traveling outside of the United States?

If you lose your green card or reentry permit or it is stolen or destroyed while you are abroad, you may need to file a Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document.  This carrier documentation will allow an airline or other transportation carrier to board a lawful permanent resident bound for the United States without the carrier being penalized.