One of the questions that immigrants often ask themselves if whether or not they can travel outside Hawaii with a Green Card.
Obtaining your Green Card is one of the first and most important steps that you need to take in order to become a U.S. citizen. Being granted yours means you are one step closer to living the American dream and until the day comes when you’ll become a citizen, you know you’re going to be safe to reside and find work in the State you choose to live in.
But what about traveling outside the country with a Green Card?
Very often, immigrants wish or need to visit their family and friends back home and, while you do have the right to travel outside Hawaii with a Green Card, you should be aware that immigrants are required to take a few extra steps to ensure their legal status will not be affected by the trip.
If you are a foreigner looking for information on how travel abroad with your Green Card, here are some of the things you need to take care of before moving forward with your travel plans.
What documents do you need to travel outside Hawaii with a Green Card?
Living in Hawaii as a permanent resident does give you the right to travel. However, leaving the country comes with certain restrictions.
In order to travel outside Hawaii and leave the country, you need to have a valid passport from your country of origin or your refugee travel document on you. In some cases, you may need to apply for a Visa if you’re looking to visit certain countries outside the US that are different from your country of citizenship.
What are the requirements to re-enter the United Stated with a Green Card?
In order to re-enter the U.S. and return to Hawaii, you need to present your Green Card to the authorities.
After landing on U.S. territory, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will need to review your permanent resident card, your passport, your I.D. and other documents that you have on you in order to allow you to enter the country and return to the Aloha State.
How long can you stay outside the country without your immigrant status being affected?
While short trips – of a few days or weeks – will not affect your status as an immigrant, choosing to travel outside Hawaii with a Green Card for more than 1 year may raise suspicions among U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officials. Therefore, if you plan to remain outside the country for more than 12 months, you should apply for a re-entry permit on Form I-131 prior to leaving the U.S. While doing so will not guarantee that you will be permitted to re-enter, the form will help establish your intention to reside in Hawaii.
Furthermore, keep in mind that traveling outside the country with a Green Card for more than six months may affect your continuous residency status required for naturalization. If your intent is to become a citizen, we recommend that you limit your travel plans abroad to 6 months or less.
To learn more about how to travel outside Hawaii with a Green Card, contact Maui Immigration Law, LLC today. We’re here to answer all your questions and determine viable solutions for achieving your goals.