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 (PDF 113KB) (click on link to access the form). This allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a transportation letter from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. 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) office in Athens, Greece. For further information, please visit:  http://athens.usembassy.gov/uscis_immigration.html.

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 our website.

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) office in the U.S. For instructions please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (PDF 63KB).

You and your spouse are required to file a petition on an I-751 Form (click on link to access 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 husband/wife being admitted into the United States. For more information, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (PDF 55KB).

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 (click on link to access form) on their behalf.

Due to changes in USCIS processing, we are unable to approve your request for a boarding foil at this time. If you have urgent travel needs, please contact the USCIS office in Athens: https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-offices/greece-uscis-athens-field-office.

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 or her own passport, if he/she is not included on the accompanying parent’s passport and his/her birth certificate listing both parents’ names.  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 status by mail. You may file Form I-407 by mail directly to the nearest USCIS International Office.  The nearest USCIS office to Turkey is in Athens Greece. Addresses for USCIS International offices can be found here: http://www.uscis.gov/international.

Filing by mail requires the submission of the same documents:

  • Completed, signed Form I-407, or signed statement of abandonment;
  • Form I-551, if available.  If not available, the appropriate box in Part 1, item 11.b should be checked;
  • All other issued USCIS booklets and cards, if applicable.

Please make sure that your I-407 form is signed. Any submissions containing an unsigned Form I-407 will be rejected and returned unprocessed by USCIS.

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 click here to visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more detailed information.