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Can Green Card Holders Travel After a Conviction? 

Law Office of Layne C. Savage Sept. 14, 2022

iron barbed wire against flag of USAIf you have a green card, you may still want to travel outside the United States to visit your family back home or to handle your personal or business affairs abroad. However, a green card holder who leaves the country (even for a short period of time) needs to consider the potential implications if they have been convicted of a crime.  

While you can travel outside the U.S., your re-entry may not be guaranteed if you have a criminal record. If you need to leave the country but are not sure if you will be deemed admissible at the time of re-entry, seek legal guidance from an attorney. An experienced immigration attorney at the Law Office of Layne C. Savage serves people in Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts, as well as surrounding areas in the two states.   

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

As a green card holder, you can face serious risks to your immigration status if you want to travel outside the U.S. but have a criminal conviction. Whether you can leave the country depends on many factors, including the nature of your conviction. 

Before you leave the country, the first thing you should do is learn about the consequences of your specific conviction. Some convictions make green card holders inadmissible or even deportable. You may want to talk to an immigration attorney before attempting to leave the country.  

An attorney will assess your particular situation and help you understand whether you are free to travel outside the U.S. with a conviction on your record. Your attorney will explain whether your conviction could make you deportable or inadmissible for re-entry.  

What Can Happen if You Travel?  

What could happen if you actually leave the country without understanding how your conviction affects your immigration status and ability to travel? Depending on the conviction, you can expect any of the following:  

  1. You will be taken into custody. 

  1. USCIS will place you in removal proceedings. 

  1. You will be deemed inadmissible for re-entry when attempting to return to the U.S. 

Everyone’s situation is different, which is why you may want to contact an attorney first. You do not want to take any risks. After all, this could cost you your immigration status or even freedom.  

What Could Make Me Inadmissible for Re-Entry?  

If you leave the country without understanding all the risks, you may end up being deported or deemed inadmissible for re-entry.  

There are several grounds for inadmissibility to the United States that you should be aware of. In particular, the law lists crimes that could make green card holders inadmissible for re-entry. Those crimes include but are not limited to: 

  • Money laundering 

  • Any drug crime, including drug trafficking 

  • Human trafficking 

  • Prostitution 

  • Multiple criminal convictions 

  • Crimes of moral turpitude 

This is not the full list of crimes that make green card holders unable to get into the U.S. If you do not see your crime on the list, consider contacting an attorney to determine whether your conviction could make you inadmissible for re-entry. Other reasons to deny re-entry include: 

  • An individual has been gone for over 180 days. 

  • An individual has been gone for more than a year and abandoned their permanent resident status. 

  • An individual committed a crime or engaged in illegal activity while abroad. 

  • An individual left the country while removal proceedings were pending. 

  • An individual attempts to enter the country at any place other than an official port of entry. 

If you fear that you could be deemed inadmissible for re-entry, talk to an experienced immigration attorney to understand your situation and determine whether it is safe to travel abroad.  

Can You Be Granted Permission

to Leave the U.S. With a Conviction?  

Depending on the type of conviction, a green card holder may be granted permission to travel with a conviction. However, you must obtain permission before attempting to cross the border. The process of obtaining the judge’s permission to travel outside the U.S. after a conviction is very fact-specific, which is why you may need to work with a skilled attorney to help you navigate the process.   

Get Experienced Legal Guidance  

Immigration laws are complex, which is why you may need to seek legal guidance from an immigration attorney at the Law Office of Layne C. Savage to determine whether you can travel outside the U.S. with a conviction. The law firm serves the needs of immigrants and green card holders in Providence, Rhode Island, and throughout the state, as well as Boston, Massachusetts, and neighboring areas. Schedule a free consultation today to discuss your situation.