Can you leave the U.S. if you have a green card?

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | US Immigration Law

When you get a green card, it means you’re a permanent resident of the United States. You are not a citizen, but you also have a very different status than someone who is on a visa. A visa could expire relatively quickly and may have certain stipulations – like keeping a job or staying in school – whereas a green card allows you to be a permanent resident and generally only needs to be renewed every 10 years.

When you go through the green card process, you’re likely looking to settle down and create a life for yourself in the United States. But that doesn’t mean you never want to leave. You may want to travel the world, you may travel for business or you may have family members who are still in another country. Are you allowed to leave the United States – and re-enter – if you have a green card?

Do not exceed 12 months

The short answer is yes, you can leave the United States as a green card holder, and you can re-enter. You can do this multiple times every year, if you’d like.

But there is one stipulation: You cannot leave the United States for more than a year. If you have been out of the country for more than a year on a green card, you may be denied re-entry.

That said, there are situations in which people have to leave for more than a year – such as if someone has to go home and take care of a sick parent. If you know that you’re going to be in this position, you can get a re-entry permit in advance.

As you can see, it’s very important to understand all of your legal obligations as an immigrant in the United States.