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Can I leave the United States if I only have my Green Card?

On Behalf of | Nov 2, 2023 | Employment Immigration, Family Immigration |

Lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) have many freedoms, but they may wonder if they travel outside the country if they can return to Pennsylvania without any problems. The answer is, generally, yes. However, there are some limitations.

The risks of traveling with a Green Card

While you are able to travel internationally generally with a green card, there are some risks. If you stay international for too long, the United States may consider that you abandoned your U.S. residency. If you have been gone for more than six months, you may find it difficult to regain entry back into the country or be delayed. This could also happen if you broke the law while abroad.

If you know that you are going to be gone for more than a year, if you lost your passport or if you have lost your green card already, you will likely need to apply for a reentry permit or a returning resident visa. Do not forget that you still must pay taxes on your international income, even if you are not in the United States. There are some exemptions and credits.

How long can I travel internationally with a Green Card?

Generally, do not travel for longer than six months. There are justifications for prolonged travel, like employment, family emergencies, education, medical treatment and military service.

Document, document, document

However, you will need to keep evidence of why you needed to stay away. You will also need to keep evidence of your continued ties to the United States. Evidence of continued ties include your U.S. tax returns and payment receipts to the IRS, family members and friendships in the United States, your U.S. bank accounts, brokerage accounts, etc. and proof of your U.S. property holdings.

Plan ahead

If you already know that you need to stay out of the country for six months or more, apply for reentry before you leave with USCIS and pay the required fee. The reentry permit (Form I-131, Application for Travel Document) is valid for up to two years, and you can renew it one time. You will need to submit biometrics and justify your absence in a USCIS interview.

As a Green Card holder, you have much more freedom, but know that you must know the restrictions as well. This is especially true when you plan to travel internationally.


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