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How might a green card limit your right to travel?

On Behalf of | May 11, 2023 | Immigration Law

If you have recently acquired a green card, it’s important to remember that it does not give you the same right to travel as gaining United States citizenship will as you don’t get a U.S. passport. In fact, it can restrict your right to travel.

A green card is the popular name for what is technically known as permanent residency. The immigration authorities give you it because they think you intend to live here permanently. So, if you act like you are not living here permanently, they may decide to take it away again.

There is no hard and fast rule stating how often or for how long you can leave the country and still retain your green card, but there are several things the authorities can consider.

Are you paying your taxes here?

This is a big one. U.S. residents pay their taxes in the U.S., even if they can get a more favorable rate elsewhere. It’s seen as your contribution to the cost of running a country and providing the infrastructure you will use here such as roads and schools. If the IRS discovers you are not declaring your taxes here, they may pass on the information to the immigration authorities.

Are you living here most of the time?

There may be a valid reason you need to travel to another country for a prolonged period — for example, if your elderly parent falls ill and you need to go and care for them. While that is allowed, just how long it is allowed for is not clear. Consider taking legal advice if you have doubts, rather than risk jeopardizing your status. Alternatively, you may want to pursue naturalization and gain citizenship, which will leave you free to travel as much as you want.