Travel Limitations For U.S. Citizens And Green Card Holders

November 14, 2010 | By | Filed Under News 

U.S. Immigration TALK
As the holiday season approaches and many people travel back to their home country, it is important to understand travel limitations.  Many lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and naturalised U.S. citizens are not aware of the consequences of traveling abroad for a long period of time.  This article will address some common questions associated with traveling outside the U.S.

Gail S. Seeram, LL.M, J.D., BBA

(1) What is the maximum time a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or green card holder can stay outside the U.S.?
Answers: (a) If a LPR stays outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days, s/he must apply for readmission to the U.S.  Also, any one trip outside of the U.S. for more than 180 days will also break the “continuously residency” requirement to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
(b) If an LPR stays outside of the U.S. for more than one year and s/he is returning to his or her permanent residence in the United States, s/he usually must have a re-entry documentation from USCIS or an immigrant visa from the Department of State.  Thereby, a LPR who stays outside the U.S. for more than one year on any one trip is considered to have abandoned their lawful permanent residency and would have to reapply for an immigrant visa or apply at the U.S. Consulate abroad for a Special Immigrant Returning Resident Visa (SB-1).
(c) In conclusion, any trip taken by a LPR outside the U.S. should be for less than six months.
(2) What is the maximum time a naturalized U.S. citizen can stay outside the U.S.?
Answer: A naturalized U.S. citizen does not have limitations as to how long s/he can stay outside the U.S. and will not lose U.S. citizenship if s/he stays outside the U.S. for any period of time.
(3) What are the passport requirements for traveling outside the U.S.?
Answer: Beginning January 23, 2007, all United States citizens, lawful permanent residents, and nonimmigrant aliens from Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico departing from or entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere at air ports-of-entry will be required to present a valid passport.  The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.
U.S. citizens returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the United States and do not need to present a passport.
Gail S. Seeram, LL.M, J.D., BBA, is a U.S. Immigration Attorney that handles cases involving family petitions, marriage-based petitions, business/investor visas, citizenship, international adoption, deportation, asylum, work authorization and extension of status.  Call her office at 407-292-7730, email questions to, visit her website at or connect on facebook at

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