A lawful permanent resident (green card holder) generally may travel outside the United States and return with just a green card. However, there are some reasons a green card holder might also require a Reentry Permit. A Reentry Permit can help green card holders preserve permanent residence after extensive travel, and it can serve as a critical travel document for certain permanent residents without a passport.
Reentry Permit for Green Card Holder
A Reentry Permit can help prevent two types of problems:
- Your Permanent Resident Card (green card) becomes technically invalid for reentry into the United States if you are absent from the United States for one year or more.
- Your U.S. permanent residence may be considered as abandoned for absences shorter than one year if you take up residence in another country.
A Reentry Permit establishes that you did not intend to abandon status, and it allows you to apply for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to two years without having to obtain a returning resident visa. For more information, read Reentry Permit for Permanent Residents. Reentry Permits are normally valid for two years from the date of issuance but can have a shorter period of validity in some cases.
Asylum- and Refugee-based Permanent Residents
You may also want to get a Reentry Permit if you plan on traveling outside the United States and cannot or do not wish to get a passport from your home country. This is common for permanent residents that obtained a green card through asylum or refugee status. Many countries throughout the world may allow you to use a Reentry Permit much like you would use a passport — placing necessary visas and entry and exit stamps in the permit — so you may use it as your primary travel document. Be sure to check with any country you plan to visit about specific requirements before you travel.