Can you travel outside of the U.S. on a green card?

On Behalf of | Jul 24, 2023 | US Immigration Law

You have a green card to live in the United States, perhaps because of a relationship you have with a citizen. Maybe you got married and got a green card that way, for instance. Perhaps other family members sponsored you and helped bring you to the U.S.

Regardless, you’re interested in leaving the country to travel the world, visit family members, go on a business trip or something of this nature. But you’re worried that you’re not going to be allowed to re-enter the United States. After all the work that you did to get the green card, you don’t want to put that in jeopardy. Are you allowed to travel outside of the country?

Traveling for less than 12 months

Yes, if you have a green card, you can leave the United States and then legally re-enter the country. You just cannot stay outside of the country for more than 12 months at a time. You can leave and enter multiple times, as long as they are all shorter than this duration.

But what happens if you do want to leave for 12 months or more? Then you need to talk to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service) about getting a re-entry permit. Once this is given out, it is valid for the next two years. So this would give you the opportunity to stay outside of the country for more than 12 months without putting your status in jeopardy, although even this extension would expire if you stayed outside of the country for too long.

You definitely don’t want to make any mistakes that will put your status at risk. Be sure you know exactly what legal options you have.