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Should Green Card Holders Travel Outside of the U.S. With a Conviction?

M Mathew Law Firm, PLLC Nov. 9, 2023

A person with a green card or temporary visa in the United States may face uncertainties and worries after being convicted of a crime. “Will I be deported?”, “Will my conviction affect my immigration status?”, and “Can I travel outside of the U.S. to see my relatives abroad?” These and many other questions may not be easy to answer without the guidance of an immigration attorney.  

If you are thinking about traveling abroad with a criminal conviction, you might want to speak with an attorney before you leave the country as you could potentially face problems at the U.S. border upon your return. As an immigration attorney at M Mathew Law Firm, PLLC, I can help you address your concerns regarding international travel if you are a green card holder with a criminal record attached. From my office in Dallas, Texas, I serve clients throughout the state, including Lewisville, Irving, Richardson, Garland, Farmers Branch, Grand Prairie, and Mesquite.   

Can I Travel Outside the U.S. If I’m a Green Card Holder But I Have a Conviction?

Traveling outside of the U.S. to visit your relatives can be a thrilling experience, and in some cases, a necessity. However, green card holders with a criminal conviction need to understand the risks involved when leaving the U.S.  

Before making plans for international travel, you might want to research both the U.S. and your country’s laws regarding entry with a criminal record. This can be a challenging and time-consuming task, which is why you might want to seek the assistance of an attorney. At M Mathew Law Firm, PLLC, I can listen to your situation and explain whether or not there could be any issues when attempting to leave the U.S., enter your home country, or re-enter the U.S.  

Note: Even if you already traveled outside of the U.S. as a green card holder with a criminal record and nothing happened, do not assume that you are safe to do it again. After all, the laws and immigration policies tend to change.  

What Can Happen?

For green card holders, leaving the United States and then reentering is typically not associated with any risks. However, when you have a conviction for a deportable crime on your record, you could face problems. In the following situations, a green card holder returning to the U.S. may be treated as a person seeking a new admission to the U.S.:  

  • They abandoned their permanent residence (this may happen when the individual travels outside the United States for more than a year);  

  • They have been outside the U.S. for more than 180 days; 

  • They committed a crime or engaged in criminal activity while outside of the U.S.; 

  • They left the U.S. while the removal proceedings were pending;  

  • They committed a crime that makes them inadmissible; or 

  • They attempt to enter the country anywhere other than a border checkpoint, airport, or any other official port of entry.  

Before traveling abroad, you might want to discuss your situation with an attorney to understand whether or not the crime you committed is a deportable crime or whether you could be deemed inadmissible for any other reason when attempting to re-enter the United States.  

A Waiver or Relief in Removal Proceedings 

If there are restrictions for international travel, it may be possible to obtain a waiver or relief in removal proceedings for the green card holder’s specific offense. However, to avoid potential problems at the U.S. border, you need to have this permission from a judge before you leave the country. Not everyone is eligible for a waiver or relief in removal proceedings, not to mention that the process of getting one can be complicated. That is why you might want to speak with an experienced immigration attorney and explore the options available to you in your particular situation.  

Learn About Your Rights

As a green card holder, you have earned your right to travel in and out of the United States freely and with no fear. However, having a criminal conviction on your record could complicate things. You might want to talk about your particular situation with me during a free consultation. Contact my law firm, M Mathew Law Firm, PLLC, to discuss how your criminal conviction can affect your plans for international travel.