What documents do I need to travel outside the United States?
The first question that comes to mind when traveling outside the United States: What documents do I need to travel outside the United States? Of course, the U.S. passport or a refugee travel document in order to travel to another country. However, you should keep in mind that every foreign country may have additional entry/exit requirements (such as a visa).
What documents do I need to present to reenter the United States?
Accordingly, the next question will deal with re-entry to the United States, that is, what documents do I need to present to reenter the United States. After a temporary travel abroad you will need to present a valid, unexpired Green Card (Form I-551 – permanent resident card). When arriving at a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will check your identification documents (passport, driving license, etc.) and determine whether you can enter the United States.
Does travel outside the United States affect my permanent resident status?
Permanent residents can travel freely outside the United States, as a rule, a temporary or short-term trip won’t affect a permanent resident status. However, if the officials find out that you do not intend to reside in the United States on a regular basis, you will be rejected in obtaining a permanent resident status. Such conclusions can be drawn based on the fact that you are absent in the United States for over a year. When traveling outside the United States immigration officers try to consider your intention to come back to the U.S. as a permanent residence. In other words, they are looking for evidence that supports the temporary nature of your absence.
What if my trip abroad will last longer than 1 year?
If you’re planning to be out of the United States more than a year, it is advisable to first apply for re-entry permit – Form I-131.The reentry permit allows green card holders to travel out of the U.S. for extended time while maintaining their legal permanent resident status (green card status) valid. Another reason to apply for a reentry permit is to use it as a travel document, instead of a passport from your home country. Many countries throughout the world may allow a traveler to use a reentry permit as a travel document instead of a passport.
If you stay outside the United States for more than 2 years, it is advisable to consider applying for a returning resident visa (SB-1) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. An SB-1 applicant will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and will need a medical exam.