FAQs – Lawful Permanent Residents/”Green Card” Holders

Please click here to learn your rights and responsibilities as a green card holder.

How long can I remain outside the United States after receiving my I-551 Permanent Resident Card (also known as a “green card”)?

Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status.  Generally, absences from the United States of more than a year are considered abandonment of permanent residence. Abandonment may be found to occur on trips of less than a year where it is believed you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence.  While brief trips abroad generally are not problematic, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) (click on link to access their site) officer may consider criteria such as whether your intention was to visit abroad only temporarily, whether you maintained U.S. family and community ties, maintained U.S employment, filed U.S. income taxes as a resident, or otherwise established your intention to return to the United States as your permanent home. Other factors that may be considered include whether you maintained a U.S. mailing address, kept U.S. bank accounts and a valid U.S. driver’s license, continued to own property and/or run a business in the United States, or any other evidence that supports the temporary nature of your absence. The Consular Section emphasizes that the final determination on your eligibility for admission into the United States rests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry.

If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, it is advisable to first apply for a re-entry permit using an I-131 Form . This allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity. Please note that it does not guarantee entry into the United States upon your return, as you must first be determined to be admissible; however, it will assist you in establishing your intention to permanently reside in the United States.

You should contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through this website.

What if I have been outside the United States for more than one year and do not have a re-entry permit, but want to return to live in the U.S.? What if my re-entry permit expired while I’ve been abroad?

For information about the requirements and application process for a Returning Residency Visa please visit U.S State Department’s website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/returning-resident.html. For detailed information on how to apply for a returning resident visa, please visit Embassy Ankara’s website: https://tr.usembassy.gov/visas/immigrant-visas/returning-resident-visa/.

I have an I-551 Permanent Resident Card (also known as a “green card”) and recently married a Turkish citizen in Turkey. How can I take her/him to the U.S. with me?

You need to file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Form for your spouse through a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For instructions please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

You and your spouse are required to file a petition on an I-751 Form with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have the conditional resident status removed. The petition must be filed 90 days before the second anniversary of your spouse being admitted into the United States. For more information, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website

I was granted conditional resident status, but never filed a petition to have the conditional status removed. I’ve been outside the United States for longer than 12 months, how can I return?

Conditional residents of the United States who failed to file an application to have their conditional resident status removed are required to re-qualify for immigrant status by having their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse file a new immigrant visa petition, using the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Form on their behalf.

If your green card is lost or stolen; and it has been less than one year since your last departure from the United States, you can apply to U.S. Embassy Ankara or U.S. Consulate General in Istanbul for a boarding foil. Please note that if and when issued, the boarding foils are valid for one month and you need to travel to the United States within its validity.  For information on how to apply for a boarding foil at the U.S. Embassy Ankara, please visit https://tr.usembassy.gov/visas/immigrant-visas/immigrant-visa-additional_info/loststolenexpired-green-card-instructions/

If the child was born during the permanent resident mother’s temporary visit abroad and provided that (a) his/her admission is within two years of birth and (b) either accompanying parent is applying for readmission upon first return after the birth of the child, then the child will not need an immigrant visa. Your child can travel to the U.S. with his/her own passport, and his/her birth certificate listing both parents’ names.  For any birth certificate issued in a language other than English, it would be good to carry its English translation, as well. On any other occasion, the Legal Permanent Resident parent needs to file an immigrant visa petition for the child.

In the event that one parent is a citizen of the United States, the foregoing information should be disregarded and an application must be made through our American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit to clarify whether U.S. citizenship is transferable to your child or not. Please contact the ACS Unit.

Upon entering the United States on an immigrant visa, you will require no further authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to start working.

By law, each immigrant or refugee admitted to the United States must obtain a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are required to work, open a bank account, pay taxes in the U.S., as well as for many other purposes. You may contact the local Social Security office in the area where you reside in the United States. For further information please visit their website at: www.ssa.gov.

You can abandon your permanent residency by submitting the required Form I-407 “Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status” by mail to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

For general information about Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status, please visit http://www.uscis.gov/i-407.

An immigrant can become a United States citizen through naturalization by living in the U.S. for a specified period (usually five years, three years if married to a U.S. citizen) and passing a naturalization examination.

Those who have served in the U.S. military or are the immediate dependents of a non-citizen killed while serving in the U.S. military may qualify for citizenship.

For details please visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more detailed information.