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Green Card Holders Traveling by Air

There is a recent trend of airlines attempting to determine whether Green Card holders are admissible to travel. However, this is not within the scope of the airline’s authority. It is important to know your rights if you are a Green Card holder when traveling by air and to ensure that you are traveling with the proper documentation.

Traveling with Valid and Unexpired Documentation

If you have a valid, unexpired permanent resident card (“PRC”), or Green Card, you do not need any additional documentation to board the aircraft. The same is true for passengers with a valid, unexpired re-entry permit (I-327). In this case, please be sure to carry the original re-entry permit, not a copy.  SB-1 visa holders also do not need any other documentation to board the aircraft if their SB-1 visa is valid and unexpired.

Traveling with Expired Documentation

Green Card holders with an expired I-551 do not need any additional documentation so long as the card was issued with a 10-year expiration date.  However, starting in January 2021, travelers with an expired Green Card will no longer be receiving extension stickers placed on the back of the card. If you have an expired Green Card, carry your revised, original I-797 receipt notice with your Green Card as temporary proof of your lawful permanent resident status when traveling. These documents will serve as proof of your lawful permanent residence for 12 months after the date of your Green Card expiration. For Green Card holders that already received an extension sticker on their card, it will remain valid until its expiration date.

Conditional residents, or residents with a two-year expiration date on their green card, with an expired green card, may also board the aircraft if they carry the revised, original I-797 form extending the validity of the card, usually for 18 months. If you do not carry the I-797 notice, the airline is able to refuse boarding.

Amid the continuing Covid-19 Pandemic and the ever-changing immigration environment, we at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. understand the confusion and anxiety travelers may have. We are here to help. If you have any questions related to flying while in possession of a green card, please contact an attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan.

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