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Traveling Overseas as a Green Card Holder

Bridge Team Member

Lawful permanent residents of the United States are permitted to travel outside the country. Brief travel will not affect your permanent resident status; however, if it is determined that you did not intend to make the U.S your permanent home, you will have abandoned your permanent resident status.

If your trip abroad lasts:

0-12 Months

If you return to the U.S. within a year, you do not require a re-entry permit. Only your green card is required. You should still review the important pointers below about maintaining your green card status, even if your trip is shorter than 12 months.

1-2 Years

If your trip lasts longer than 12 months but less than 2 years, you will need to obtain a re-entry permit before leaving on your trip. A re-entry permit is valid for up to 2 years.

More than 2 years

If you remain out of the U.S. for more than 2 years, you must obtain a returning resident visa. If you remain outside the U.S. for more than 2 years after issuance of a re-entry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa, you may be considered to have abandoned your permanent resident status.

Plan ahead Reentry Permits

How do I get a reentry permit? 

To obtain one, file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. File this about 60 days before your permit.

Can I file my form I-131 to get a reentry permit while I am outside the U.S? 

No. You must be physically present in the U.S when you file this form.

If I file Form I-131 while in the U.S, will USCIS deny my application if I leave the U.S?

 No. USCIS will not deny based on physical location at that time.

When do I need a reentry permit?

You do not need a reentry permit if you will be out of the U.S for less than a year.

Keep the following points in mind

  • Absences from the United States of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency required for naturalization
  • Your permanent resident status may be considered abandoned regardless of the length of your absence (even trips less than a year) if you take up residence in another country.
  • You may not be approved for a reentry permit.
  • If you are traveling but would like to upkeep your permanent residency for naturalization purposes, you should file Form N-470, an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.
  • Many green card holders who exceed a one-year travel period without proper documentation are being placed in removal proceedings for failure to maintain continuous physical presence inside the United States.
  • The possibility of losing a green card due to travel is real. Green card holders who plan to travel must take preventative steps to ensure they are aware of what steps to take to prevent problems upon their return to the US.
  • Reentry permits expire.
  • Always keep your absence as short as possible and maintain as many ties to the U.S. as possible. Remember to always intend to return to the United States and remain a Lawful Permanent Resident.

Don't be afraid to travel, just be aware of the laws and rules that apply to your length of your stay. Our Client Services team is standing by to answer any travel-related questions you might have. Use your credentials to log into the platform or reach out here.

Green Card Guide

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult a Bridge-affiliated partner attorney or another qualified legal professional.


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