Can I Travel with a Green Card and No Passport?

Can I Travel with a Green Card and No Passport?


As a US permanent resident, you may be wondering whether you can travel outside of the US with your green card and no passport. The short answer is: maybe.


In this guide, I will discuss how to travel using your green card and no passport by using a reentry permit instead of a passport. I will also discuss the benefits of having a reentry permit.


If you have any questions, feel free to email me directly at




1. What Documents do I Need to Travel Outside of the US?

2. How Can I Travel with a Green Card and No Passport?

3. What are the Requirements to Get a Reentry Permit?

4. How Long can I Leave the US as a Permanent Resident?

5. How Can a Reentry Permit Help Me?

6. What are the Limitations of a Reentry Permit?

7. What are Some Ways to Protect My Status as a Permanent Resident?

8. Conclusion



1. What Documents do I Need to Travel Outside of the US?


  • As a US permanent resident (green card holder) you are allowed to travel outside of the US.


  • To travel outside of the US you will need 3 documents: 1) your permanent resident card; 2) your passport; and 3) any visas that are required by the foreign country you are travelling to.


  • The laws of the United States do not require a lawful permanent resident to have a passport to enter the United States. However, you will likely need a passport to enter another country.


  • Also, the airline that you’re travelling with may require you to have a passport.


  • If you don’t have a passport, I’ll explain how you may still be able to travel below.


2. How Can I Travel with a Green Card and No Passport?


Even if you do not have a valid passport, you may still be able to travel using your green card and a reentry permit. Here’s how:


  • Many US permanent residents do not have a valid passport from their country of citizenship. In many cases, they are either unable to get a passport or it would be extremely difficult to get a passport.


  • In these situations, a lawful permanent resident can apply for a reentry permit.


  • A reentry permit is a travel document. It is a small booklet which has an identification page and also has many blank pages for stamps and visas.


  • When a permanent resident cannot get a passport from their country of citizenship, a reentry permit can substitute for the passport.


  • Many countries allow a reentry permit to be used in-place of a passport.


  • The reentry permit can be stamped like a passport and can have visas attached to it like a passport would.


  • However, you have to make sure that the country you intend to visit will accept a reentry permit in-place of a passport. This is ultimately up to the country you intend to visit.


  • The reason why my answer in the introduction is “maybe” is because whether you can travel without a passport will depend on whether the country you are travelling to will allow you to use a reentry permit instead of a passport.


3. What are the Requirements to Get a Reentry Permit?


To get a reentry permit, there are 5 main requirements:


  • You must be a US permanent resident


  • You must submit a Form I-131 with USCIS with some supporting documentation


  • You must be physically present in the US when your reentry permit application is filed and accepted by USCIS


  • You must attend a biometrics (digital fingerprinting) appointment in the US


  • You must intend to depart the United States temporarily. This means that at the time you leave the US until the time you return, you must maintain the intent to return to the US as your home.


4. How Long can I Leave the US as a Permanent Resident?


  • As a US permanent resident, you can leave the US for up to 1 year and use your permanent resident card (Form I-551) to reenter the US.


  • However, once you’re out of the US for more than 6 months, you are eligible for additional immigrant inspection procedures. Immigration officials may question you to determine whether you have abandoned your green card based on your absence. Below, I’ll explain how a reentry permit can help in this situation.


  • If you’re outside of the US for longer than 1 year, your green card (Form I-551) can no longer be used to reenter the US. You will either need a valid reentry permit to reenter the US or you will need to apply for a returning resident visa (SB1 visa).


5. How Can a Reentry Permit Help Me?


A reentry permit has 3 main benefits:


  • Travel Document: If you cannot get a passport, you may be able to use your reentry permit instead of a passport (if the countries you plan to visit will accept the reentry permit as a valid form of travel document).


  • Protect Status: As I mentioned above, if you leave the US for over 6 months, you are eligible for additional inspection upon your return to the US. Immigration officials are checking if you’ve abandoned your permanent resident status. A reentry permit creates a legal presumption that you did not intend to abandon your green card.


  • US Entry Document: If you leave the US for longer than 1 year, your green card (Form I-551) is no longer valid to reenter the US. A reentry permit is valid for up to 2 years from the day it is issued and can be used to reenter the US as long as it is still valid.


6. What are the Limitations of a Reentry Permit?


  • If you are using a reentry permit instead of a passport, you can only do so if the country you plan to visit accepts a reentry permit as a valid substitute to a passport.


  • A reentry permit does not guarantee that you will be admitted to the US. A reentry permit creates a legal presumption that you did intend to maintain your permanent resident status. However, USCIS can still overcome this legal presumption if there is enough evidence.


7. What are Some Ways to Protect My Status as a Permanent Resident?


  • If you are leaving the US for longer than 6 months, get a reentry permit;


  • Maintain strong ties to the US;


  • Filing taxes as a US resident;


  • Maintaining a US address;


  • Maintaining a valid driver’s license;


  • Owning property in the US;


  • Owning a US-based business;


  • Having a US bank account;


  • To the extent possible, maintain records and documents showing that your travel outside of the US was temporary.



8. Conclusion


As a US permanent resident, you are allowed to freely travel outside of the US. To travel, you usually need your permanent resident card, a valid passport, and whatever visas are required by the country you intend to visit.


While the US does not require permanent residents to have a valid passport to re-enter the US, foreign countries and airlines require you to have a passport.


If you do not have a valid passport and you cannot get one, you may be able to use a reentry permit instead of a passport.


As a US immigration lawyer, I can prepare and file your reentry permit application for you. If you have any questions, or if you’d like my help, please email me directly at I’d be happy to help you.








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Michael Ashoori, Esq.

U.S. Immigration Lawyer

I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.

Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.

Got a question? Send me an email.