Possessing a green card gives immigrants permanent resident status and allows them many of the same rights as citizens. Traveling is an important personal or work-related priority for many people. Traveling with a green card is fairly simple, but can you travel without it? For assistance and representation contact an experienced Montgomery County green card lawyer today.

What is the Purpose of a Green Card?

A green card is a symbol of permanent legal residence in the United States. When an immigrant holds a green card they can live and work in the U.S. permanently. They are given nearly the same rights as a citizen, save certain benefits like having the right to vote. The green card is a physical card used for identification purposes and proof that the individual has the right to remain in the country. While these permanent residents can also be issued state IDs and driver’s licenses, carrying a green card is important to avoid any issues when running into law enforcement.

Can an Immigrant Travel Without a Green Card?

Because green card holders do not have a social security number and are not considered citizens, traveling without their permanent resident card could potentially pose an issue. There are two factors to consider when determining whether or not it is safe to travel without a green card.

Domestic travel:

  • Travel within the United States is possible without a green card. Whether you are traveling by plane, train, car, or other, you are probably okay carrying only a state-issued identification card. Citizens and permanent residents are free to travel within the United States, going from one state to another at their leisure. Because you are staying within the borders of the U.S. you may not need your green card for travel.

International travel:

  • International travel is a different story. It is possible that you can go through security at an airport and board a flight or drive over country borders without possession of your green card. However, when you decide to return to the U.S. you will likely face some issues. You will have to speak with a border agent or go through customs upon your return to the United States. These agencies will quickly be made aware of your permanent resident status and request to see your green card. Without it, your travel will be delayed and you will face a considerable amount of questioning. You could be refused at the border or airport and denied re-entry into the country.

What if I Need to Travel Without My Green Card?

If you need to travel but do not have possession of your green card yet, you have some options. There are temporary travel documents that you can apply for that will act in place of your green card. A re-entry permit or I-551 stamp can offer proof of permanent residence and allow you to travel both domestically and internationally with no problems.