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Can I Travel without a Green Card?

Understanding the complexities of immigration law is often daunting and challenging. This is particularly the case if you are an immigrant waiting for the approval of your green card application or lawful permanent status. The situation can be tricky if you want to travel internationally while waiting for your green card. It's normal to worry about possible complications that could arise during this period.

This article will answer the key questions that most people have when traveling without a green card. It includes understanding the process and eligibility to travel outside of the U.S. while awaiting the change of your immigration status. The article also emphasizes ensuring you don't unintentionally abandon your application.

  • I've sent in my lawful permanent resident status application, but I am still waiting for my green card to arrive. I would like to visit another country. Can I travel without a green card?
  • When I came to the U.S., I was a lawful permanent resident (LPR). I am still waiting for green card delivery. I would like to visit my family members outside the country. But I am afraid I will not be let back into the U.S. What should I do?
  • Can I work while waiting for my green card?
  • Green card questions? Get in touch with an attorney

I've Sent in My Lawful Permanent Resident Status Application, but I Am Still Waiting for My Green Card To Arrive. I Would Like To Visit Another Country. Can I Travel Without a Green Card?

A permanent resident's green card is the identification document proving your permanent resident status. This card enables you to work and travel in the USA. Suppose a foreign national applied for it, but their application is still pending with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In that case, two documents usually do not take too long to acquire. The first is the Employment Authorization Document (EAD card). The second document is the EAD card will also allow you to work in the U.S. advance travel parole, enabling you to leave without a green card. Complete the Application for Travel Document (I-131 form) to start the advance travel parole application process. You can find the document on the USCIS website.

When I Came to the U.S., I Was a Lawful Permanent Resident (Lpr). I Am Still Waiting for Green Card Delivery. I Would Like To Visit My Family Members Outside the Country. But I Am Afraid I Will Not Be Let Back Into the U.S. What Should I Do?

You can travel without a green card because you are already a lawful permanent resident.

Upon arrival at the port of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will stamp your passport with an I-551 stamp. The I-551 stamp is also called the Temporary Proof of Legal Residence stamp. This will serve as temporary proof of your status as a permanent resident. It is usually valid for up to one year from the stamped date.

However, the USCIS officer may also determine at the time of admission the length of validity of the stamp. This change is a welcome development from the U.S. government, considering the original six-month period and that the green card could take months before being issued.

With the stamp, working as a temporary travel pass, you can freely do international travel and go in and out of the U.S. In addition to checking this stamped expiration date, you should also check when your passport expires. You can locate this data on the same page as your photo. If your passport has expired or will expire while you're outside the USA, you need to renew it.

As a green card holder, you could contact your country's embassy office to renew your passport. You could also consider renewing your passport when you visit your home country.

Disclaimer: Renewal of passports online on the U.S. Department of State's website is only available to U.S. passport holders. The service is not available to green card holders.

Keep the old passport with you because it has your permanent residence stamp. While you are away, leave a copy of your passport and permanent residence stamp with someone in the U.S. That way, if your passport gets lost or stolen, someone can fax a copy of your passport and permanent residence stamp to the closest U.S. consulate or embassy near you. The U.S. embassy will help you travel without a green card.

Be careful not to stay outside the U.S. for too long or give any impression of you intending to live outside the U.S. Staying outside of the U.S. for an extended period could create a presumption of abandonment of your permanent resident status in the U.S.

However, if you plan to stay overseas for over a year, apply for a reentry permit or returning resident visa. It is still crucial to show your intent to keep your permanent residence status in the United States.

Can I Work While Waiting for My Green Card?

The USCIS must approve your work permit (EAD card) first. To work while you await adjustment of status, you must submit an Application for Employment Authorization. If you're approved, you'll be able to work in the U.S. while your green card application is reviewed, and your Employment Authorization also serves as proof to an employer that you're lawfully allowed to work.

Green Card Questions? Get in Touch with an Attorney

You've spent much time and effort following the proper procedures to apply for a green card. The last thing you want is for the USCIS to declare that you have abandoned your application for lawful permanent residence. If the USCIS reaches this conclusion, you'll have to start the process over from the beginning, pay all of the fees again, and you may have to wait in line behind other applicants.

Before traveling outside the United States, you must understand the requirements and procedures. This is particularly important if you have a pending green card application or are awaiting your permanent resident card.

For nonimmigrants, traveling outside of the U.S. could be worrisome. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services sometimes assumes you intend to abandon your application. To avoid this, ensure that you comply with immigration laws.

If you have doubts about the requirements and the process, it is best to contact an experienced immigration attorney near you. They can give you a better understanding of the advance parole document you need to secure before going out of the U.S. They can also provide legal advice tailored to your case.

Immigration lawyers can also help you have a better understanding of immigration laws and answer other questions that you might have related to this.

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