Green Card Holders Traveling for the Holidays: Read This First

If you are a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., be sure to carry your green card in a safe place when traveling — it’s a crucial document for reentry to the United States. Also realize that you’ll need to carry a passport from your home country, in order to gain entry to the countries to which you travel. With those in hand, all should go smoothly.

But just in case, it’s worth reviewing some of the other issues that can come up when traveling, such as:

  • what to do if your green card is lost or stolen while traveling
  • how to avoid the appearance of having abandoned your U.S. residence (and right to a green card)
  • what activities can make you inadmissible upon your return to the U.S. (in which case you could be denied reentry), and
  • what activities can make you deportable from the U.S. (in which case you could be placed into Immigration Court proceedings upon your return).

All of these are covered in the article, “Returning to the U.S. as a Green Card Holder.”

If traveling by air, also plan ahead regarding what you are allowed to pack. Some traditional American holiday gifts and foods that you might want to take to overseas family or friends — such as cranberry sauce, jams, wine or other alcohol, and maple syrup — are liquids, which can only be transported in checked bags.

Christmas crackers (more English than American — they’re not a food, but a sort of toy that makes a popping sound when opened) are prohibited on planes altogether. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would prefer you not wrap the gifts, either. (You can, but be ready to watch a TSA agent unwrap them if anything looks suspicious going through the screening machines.) For more information (such as how big a snow globe you can carry on) see the “TSA Christmas Traveling Tips 2012.”