Serving The Immigration Needs Of The San Diego Area Since 1984

Can green card holders leave the USA and return?

On Behalf of | Aug 28, 2023 | Immigration Law

There is a lot going on in the world right now, and the immigration status of green card holders can change with the political winds. That means that it is wise to stay abreast of any changes approaching the horizon.

Many who come to the United States need to return to their home countries for various reasons, including births, deaths, and business matters. But they may worry that once they have left the US they will not be able to legally return.

Those with legal green cards have the right to leave and re-enter

It should come as a relief that those with legal permanent resident status can leave and re-enter the country without penalties as long as they do not stay gone longer than a year. But if you have a need to be gone longer than one year, there is a process for that, too.

Those green card holders still have options, however. They must fill out an application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) for a re-entry permit, which typically remains valid for two years from when the permit was issued.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may leave the United States multiple times and reenter, if you do not intend to stay outside the United States for 1 year or more. Those who take this important step can then apply to be readmitted upon their return as long as the originally issued permit remains valid. (Should it be invalid, there is yet another legal way back into the United States. They can seek a returning resident visa from either a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.)

Immigration issues can be tricky to navigate, so learn as much as you can about the legalities involved before leaving the country.