Green Card or Permanent Resident Card discloses information that provides an
individual’s proof of lawful permanent resident status in the United States. An
individual with a Green Card has the right to live and work permanently in the
United States. Green Card holders have to follow immigration law and be properly
registered with the United States government. Green Card holders are entitled to
depart the United States on vacation or for work purposes. However, there are
limitations on how long an immigrant can stay outside the United States without
losing his or her permanent resident status (Green Card). A document called a
"Reentry Permit" must be obtained from the USCIS in many cases.
Reentry Permits to Green Card Holders: Only Green Card holders may obtain a
reentry permit when visiting foreign countries. United States citizens and
foreign nationals on nonimmigrant visas don't need to obtain a "Reentry Permit".
The purpose of applying for and obtaining a reentry permit is to preserve an
alien's permanent resident status (Green Card). Green Card holders leaving the
United States for a long period of time and without obtaining a reentry permit
may risk losing their Green Cards. There are different requirements that all
permanent residents should be aware of when traveling abroad with a Green Card.
The Green Card Information Guide contains detailed information on how long a
Green Card holder can stay outside the United States without losing the Green
Card, and information on how to apply for a reentry permit in case of extended
time outside the country.
Individuals leaving the United States for over a certain amount of time are
required to apply for and obtain a special travel document known as a reentry
permit. However, an individual may depart the U.S. as long as the application is
submitted in the United States. The problem with applying in advance of your
travel and leaving the country before the permit is approved is that the
application document may be denied, hence creating a problem upon returning to
the country. It may be possible to obtain a returning resident visa, but this is
Important Notice for Green Card holders planning on applying for U.S.
citizenship: Before a Green Card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship through
the naturalization process, he or she needs to fulfill a residency requirement.
The time spent abroad does not count towards this requirement. Green Card
holders staying abroad for lengthy periods may disrupt their residency, since
the time spent abroad does not count towards the residency requirement for
naturalization. However, it is possible to submit an "Application to Preserve
Residence for Naturalization Purposes". Detailed information and application
procedures can be found in the Green Card Information Guide.