One of the conditions to maintain lawful US permanent resident status (LPR or Green Card) is to support and have permanent residence in the United States. Generally, a green card holder who moves outside the United States, making another country their permanent home, abandons their green card. However, there are exceptions for US permanent residents who commute to the United States for employment from Canada or Mexico. We discuss “commuter status” for US permanent residents that commute from Canada or Mexico here.
Who can qualify for “commuter status”?
“Commuter status” is only available in limited situations to US permanent residents living in Canada or Mexico.
What qualifies as “commuting”?
US Permanent Residents are considered “commuting” under the two following situations:
- Those who commute for regular employment in the United States; and
- Those who enter to perform seasonal work in the United States, but whose presence in the United States is for 6 months or less, in the aggregate, during any continuous 12-month period (seasonal commuters or seasonal workers).
Can I just commute on my normal green card?
NO. If you do not designate yourself as a “commuter”, you will jeopardize your US permanent resident status and could have your green card revoked. You must take up commuter status and a Permanent Resident Card (PRC) that indicates your status as a commuter. This can be done with USCIS Form I-90.
How do I obtain “commuter status” while on a green card?
Before you can designate as a commuted and obtain a commuter green card, you must demonstrate that you meet the following requirements:
- You have lawful permanent resident status (LPR or a green card);
- You must demonstrate that you live in Canada or Mexico; AND
- You must establish employment in the United States within 6 months before filing for a commuter green card.
How do I prove my employment in the United States?
You can prove qualifying employment in the United Statues with the following:
- Employment pay stubs showing employment in the United States;
- An employment letter on company letterhead showing current employment in the United States;
- Other acceptable proof of employment in the United States.
How do I remove commuter status from my green card?
If you have been residing in Canada or Mexico as a green card holder with a commute green card and have taken up residence in the United States, you must request to have your commuter status removed from your green card by filing Form I-90 with USCIS. Be prepared to prove evidence of your US residence with the following dated within 6 months of your application:
- Lease agreement;
- Deed to property;
- Utility bills; or
- Any other evidence that proves your residence in the United States.
What if I am a seasonal worker?
As a seasonal worker, you are presumed to be residing in the United States if you are present inside the United States for more than 6 months, in the aggregate, during any continuous 12-month period. If you are present inside the United States as a seasonal worker for more than 6 months a year you are NO longer eligible for commuter status. You must file Form I-90 with USCIS to update your LPR status.
What are my rights and responsibilities as a US green card holder?
Additional Outside Resources
- USCIS Commuter Green Cards
- I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
- Form I-90 Instructions
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