We are family-oriented immigration lawyers focused on helping people who want to build a fulfilling life in the United States.

Does someone in the U.S. need to leave to obtain a Green Card?

Immigration rules in the United States leave many people feeling confused. The right approach in one situation could terminate your rights in a different scenario. People can offer advice that may have worked for them but that could do more harm than good for another situation.


Generally speaking, those who want to become lawful permanent residents of the United States need to enter the country on a visa. Often, they need to stay in the country for an extended amount of time without leaving in order to move forward with the adjustment of their status to become a permanent resident.


However, there are some people who need to leave the country in order to secure their Green Cards. When is it necessary for an applicant to exit the country and re-enter the United States?


Those without a current visa sometimes need to leave the country

In order to qualify as a lawful permanent resident, you have to enter the country without breaking the law or qualify for certain protections and exemptions. Those who enter the country seeking asylum without documentation, for example, could potentially ask for a Green Card without leaving the United States again.


However, undocumented immigrants or those with expired visas who now want a Green Card may need to travel back to their country of origin first. If your employer or a family member can help sponsor you for permanent resident status, you will likely go on to a waiting list and spend that time out of the United States.


It could be months or even several years before you qualify. At that point, you will be able to attend the immigration interview at the local office for the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and potentially get the paperwork you need to re-enter the United States.


You may need help before planning travel or filing papers

There are so many potential complications involved in immigration cases that the average person will not be able to understand the laws that apply to them.


Whether you don’t have documentation but believe you could qualify for certain visas or you have undocumented family members and are yourself either a citizen or a permanent resident, getting advice before you file immigration paperwork or arrange travel can help avoid making mistakes with long-term immigration implications.