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Permanent Residents and International Travel

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Do you need a travel document? Check before you go.

Do you need a travel document? Check before you go.

Photo: Gary S Chapman/Getty Images

To maintain your permanent resident status, you must show your intent to live permanently in the United States. If you leave the U.S. for an extended period of time or move permanently to another country, you could affect your ability to become a U.S. citizen and in some cases, you could lose your permanent resident status.

Can a permanent resident travel outside the United States?

Yes, a permanent resident can travel internationally. You will need a passport from your country of citizenship and your green card or travel document to leave and re-enter the U.S.

Tip: Check the country you plan to visit to find out if they have additional entry requirements such as a visa.

How long can I stay outside the U.S.?

Unlike U.S. citizens, permanent residents cannot remain outside the country indefinitely. You may require a special travel document to re-enter the country depending on the length of your absence.

Less than 1 year:
If you return to the U.S. within a year, you do not require a re-entry permit. Only your green card is required.

Between 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.

Remember: 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.

Source: USCIS

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