Green Card Rules Travel

Green Card Rules Travel are specific and should be followed closely. A foreign investor can apply for a conditional green card. It lasts for two years. Investors that plan to stay in the U.S. must petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) three months before the green card expires.

The foreign investor must prove to the USCIS:   

  • Their investment in the company was not a way to evade proper U.S. immigration procedure.      
  • They have invested the required amount of capital to lift green card restrictions.
  • They will be actively involved in the operations of the business.
  • The business should be large enough to sustain the employment of 10 United States workers.

Conditional resident status should be taken very seriously by applicants. They should complete the petition by entrepreneur to remove conditions on USCIS Form-I829.

Entrepreneurs risk deportation if they do not fulfill the requirements of the conditional green card before the deadline. The USCIS also reserves the right to hold the restrictions on the green card and refuse permanent residency.

The investor should seek the counsel of immigration lawyer if problems arise. The lawyer can help the investor prove there was good cause or extenuating circumstances surrounding the green card application process.

Removing Conditional Resident Status Based on Marriage

Immigrants are automatically given a conditional green card if they have married a U.S. citizen within two years of receiving US residency or an immigrant visa from the USCIS.

Officials give an immigrant a conditional visa to monitor their relationship. The USCIS wants to ensure the relationship is real. After they grant the visitor a two-year visa they are also required to:

  • Return to the consulate for an interview. The department will use the interview to determine if the relationship is real.
  • Provide documentation supporting the validity of the marriage. The documentation should show the immigrant, and the citizen got married for the right reasons and not to obtain citizenship.
  • Complete the I-751 form at least 90 days before the conditional green card expires.

The immigrant is granted permanent residency if the petition is approved.

If the green cardholder does not file the petition, they will be held in court and possibly deported. They will also lose their conditional visa status.

Again, if the applicant misses the petition deadline they must seek the aid of an immigration lawyer If the lawyer can prove, with good cause, extenuating circumstances delayed the application then the applicant may be able to keep their conditional visa status.

What Happens After You File for Removal of the Conditions

Once an applicant has filed for removal of conditions and it has been approved, they are giving clearance to apply for citizenship. Removal of conditions does not automatically make an immigrant a citizen nor does the USCIS automatically file an application for citizenship. Instead, the green card holder is granted a resident visa.

The USCIS sends the green cardholder a document stating that their petition has been approved and they are now in valid immigrant status. They are also called into the consulate for fingerprinting and an interview. The interview must take place before a final decision is granted.

Travel Tips to Avoid Re-Entry Problems and Permanent Residence Abandonment

Permanent residents are required by law to inform the USCIS if they plan to move. They must complete the AR-11 form within 10 days of the move. Permanent residents must also reapply for their visa every 10 years. The reapplication form is Form I-90.

It takes approximately three months to renew a green card. Permanent residents should apply for renewal within six months of the expiration date.

Permanent residents are allowed to travel abroad. Foreign travel will not affect their visa unless the USCIS believes they are traveling “too much.” In that case, they will review the person’s visa status and make revoke their visa. Officials believe that any permanent resident that stays outside of the U.S. for more than six months should be monitored. There have been instances where permanent residents where denied re-entry into the states.

At the port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent will ask the resident for their permanent visa card. The card should be valid and unexpired. The resident must also present other valid forms of documentation such as a passport or US driver’s license. Be advised that re-entry to the United States is left up to the discretion of border patrol. They can deny re-entry based on several factors such as a damaged or expired visa.

As a permanent resident, it is your duty to ensure that your visa is clean, valid, and free from any damage. Sometimes, a permanent resident is allowed to enter the country with an expired visa. This happens when the visa has been expired for less than a year. You will be required to pay a fine and complete the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Form I-90).

These regulations do not apply to members of the armed forces or government. A U.S. government employee or spouse/child of a serviceman is not required to reapply for a visa if they have been stationed abroad. The spouse/child or employee is required to present the green card at the port of entry. They must also be traveling with the service member or en route to meet with them.

There are ways to protect your permanent residency status if you plan to spend an extended amount of time outside the U.S.:

  • You should maintain all bank accounts, especially your credit cards.
  • Keep in contact with friends and loved ones via phone calls and emails.
  • Make sure all U.S. documents such as driver’s licenses and passports are also current.

You may be asked to provide documentation stating that you are, in fact, a resident of the United States and plan on returning to the U.S. to live. Immigration officials can ask for proof, and these records will help to corroborate your case.

Now, if your trip was due to a job assignment, you can ask your employer to sign a written letter stating that they have commissioned you to travel overseas. They must also detail the date and length of your stay. The statement must also clarify your return to the States to work for the employer or an affiliate.

There are also some other rules to keep in mind. It is not a good idea to return to the United States with guests that are not green card holders or citizens. Officials advise against using a resort area as a port of entry, meaning you must enter the country through a designated port of entry.

If you have purchased a round-trip ticket that is no longer valid once you leave the country, do not return to the U.S. using that expired ticket. It is also recommended that you refrain from using a private charter, such as a jet, to re-enter the country after an extended stay.

Permanent residents that can provide adequate documentation or justification will be granted a re-entry permit by the USCIS.

However, the USCIS reserves the right to deny re-entry if the resident is frequently traveling overseas and applying for a permit. They can assume that the person does not formally or permanently live in the United States.

Understand Continuous Residence

The USCIS looks very closely at a green cardholder’s “continuous residency” when determining to grant a permanent visa. If the green cardholder leaves the U.S. for more than six months, that can raise the eyebrows of USCIS officials.

Permanent residents seeking citizenship must complete the Application of Naturalization (Form N-400). One of the requirements for naturalization is continuous residency for five years. If a person spends over six months in a foreign country, that can affect the approval of their application. To improve their chances of naturalization, permanent residents shouldn’t stay longer than six months in a foreign country.

Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status

Abandonment of permanent residency is a serious matter. Permanent residents that leave the U.S. for more than a year can be accused of forfeiting their permanent resident status.

The criteria for abandoning permanent residency is broad. It can take two years or even a day for officials to determine that a resident has abandoned their residency. If the resident spends more time traveling outside of the U.S. than living here, it can be presumed that they have abandoned their residency. Residents that travel to another country with the intention to live there are also presumed to be abandoning their residency.

Residents who fail to file income tax while outside of the country or claims ‘nonresident’ on their taxes can be subject to forfeiture.

Upon re-entry, it is up to Customs and Border Protection to determine if the resident is, in fact, a lawful resident of the United States. Residents can provide proof by sharing mortgage/lease documents, employment records, or tax documents.

Once Customs and Border Protection has established residency, the permanent resident must complete the re-entry form (Form I-131). The form asks specific questions such as the length and purpose of the trip. Once the form is completed, the resident will have to schedule an appointment for fingerprints with the USCIS.

The permit (Form I-131) does allow the resident to leave the country again, but they must be fingerprinted and processed before their departure. Permanent residents that remain overseas for two years or more will have to apply for a Returning resident visa.

Lost or Stolen Green Card

If a green cardholder loses their green card while they are in the United States, they should go to a nearby police station and file a police report. If the card gets lost overseas, the cardholder should contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate. They will provide a boarding foil that allows the cardholder to travel.

A boarding foil is a transportation letter that grants a permanent resident permission to re-enter the country after traveling for less than a year. The resident is required to replace the lost/stolen green card by completing Form I-90.

If you are a green cardholder that has been denied re-entry by a customs agent or border patrol, you can appeal the decision in a court of law.

Immigration courts are designed to handle immigration and naturalization disputes. The judge will make the final decisions. A permanent resident should contact an immigration attorney if they have been denied access to the country. They can also contact the Green Card Center to obtain more information.

Avoid the Hassles – Apply for U.S. Citizenship

Being a U.S. citizen makes travel easier and can even be less expensive. When you are a U.S. citizen, you will be granted a U.S. passport that allows you to travel to anywhere in the world. You will not have the same travel limits or regulations that green card holders have.

Citizenship allows you to re-enter the country without providing documentation that you are a permanent resident or applying for a re-entry permit.

Documents to Bring When Traveling

It is a good idea to bring your foreign passport even when you become a U.S. citizen. A green card also known as Permanent Resident card (Form I-551) is good for entry into the United States, but it does not work in other countries.

However, permanent residents can travel with an I-551 stamp in their passport. Persons with expired conditional green cards must bring the expired visa and the documents that show they have applied for removal of conditions to the border and customs agents.

Persons seeking asylum in the U.S. that have a pending application will need to provide an Advanced Parole Document to travel outside of the country. Persons with specialty visas such as an H-1 or H-4 are not required to have an advanced parole document so long as they have already submitted their application for approval.

Green cardholder’s should always keep these important documents on hand:

  • High school diploma
  • College degree
  • Marriage/birth certificate
  • Passport

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