Planning for the Future: The Impact of International Travel on Green Card Holders

Even after obtaining your green card, maintaining your permanent residence can be more complicated than expected. As a green card holder, traveling outside of the US for longer than six months may prompt the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to question whether you are abandoning your permanent residence.

If you must exit the US for more than one year, you must apply for an Application for Travel Document, also known as a Re-entry Permit, to inform CBP of the purpose and duration of your trip. You will also have to complete a biometrics appointment at an Application Support Center. Applicants under the age of 14 or over the age of 79, may apply with passport photos to avoid this requirement. However, a majority of the applicants must be physically present in the US to complete their biometrics. Please note that if you submit your application and exit the US before attending your biometrics appointment, your application may be denied. To expedite the process, you can request an earlier appointment for one of the following reasons:

  • Severe financial loss to company or person;
  • Emergency situation;
  • Humanitarian reasons;
  • Nonprofit organization’s request to further the cultural and social interests of the United States;
  • Department of Defense or national interest circumstances;
  • USCIS error; or
  • Compelling interest of USCIS.

If your application is approved, your Re-entry Permit will allow travel for over one year, facilitate re-entry into the United States, and help preserve your permanent residence.

Obtaining a Re-entry Permit prevents losing your green card due to abandonment. Despite unpredictable long-term travel plans, we believe it is always best to mitigate potential immigration consequences by staying alert, informed and proactive. Please contact EIG if you are a green card holder and would like to apply for a Re-entry Permit.