As a Green Card holder (Permanent Resident) in the United States, you will be required to maintain your immigration status to remain in the country legally. This requires you to obey certain simple obligations. For example, informing the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) of any changes in your address within 10 days of moving by filing Form AR-11, Alien's Change of Address Card, and renewing your Green Card with Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, every 10 years.
Traveling as a lawful permanent resident can mean a whole new form of trouble if you do not meet such obligations. As a Green Card holder, you are authorized to travel freely outside the US for temporary periods without affecting your permanent residence status. However, as a permanent resident of the US, it is expected that you will be physically present in the country. Therefore, taking long trips abroad can threaten your status as a permanent resident.
What Do You Need to Understand Before Traveling Abroad as a US Permanent Resident?
Every year, hundreds of permanent residents are denied entry to the United States for various reasons. To reenter the country, you will require a valid, unexpired Green Card. Your Green Card and identity documents are reviewed by a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official at the Port of Entry. It is very common for permanent residents to be forgetful when maintaining their Green Card by forgetting to renew it before traveling.
Green Cards are required to be renewed every 10 years before they expire. Permanent residents are generally required to apply for at least 10-12 months before renewing their Green Card. Having distorted or damaged cards can also cause a problem with the CBP officials. It is your responsibility to maintain your Green Card in a way that is legible and readable. It is possible to reenter the country with an expired Green Card, however, you are required to pay a re-entry fee on top of the Green Card renewal fee. This can be very expensive.
On top of that, this can significantly delay the process and cause other legal problems for you. Therefore it is best to renew your Green Card before leaving the country by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.