Sun | Jan 23, 2022

Immigration Corner | Can my green card be mailed to Jamaica?

Published:Tuesday | February 26, 2019 | 12:24 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My green card will expire in November 2019. I know I can apply for renewal only six months before expiration, but my question is whether I need to provide a United States (US) address or can I use my Jamaican address for the card to be mailed to. I travel between Jamaica and US as my children are citizens there.


Dear WD,

As the holder of a US green card, you are supposed to live in the United States. Failure to reside there can lead to the abandonment of your US residency. Some persons are of the belief that if they live outside the United States but travel to the US every six months, they won’t lose their green card/residency status.

The reality is that if you travel to the United States every few months but only remain for a few days or few weeks, it will become evident to US immigration that you do not live in there. If the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer realises from your travel pattern that you are not living in America, they can suggest that you surrender your green card on the spot. If you refuse to surrender the card, you can be placed in removal proceedings and be required to appear before an immigration judge and have a trial to demonstrate that factually and legally you have not abandoned your US residency.

Persons may say they have had their green cards for years and have not lived in America and they travel every six months and their status is secure. Their status depends on their next visit and which CBP officer processes their request for admission at a US port of entry. CBP officers have wide discretion to admit any non-US citizen into the United States.

If a green card holder cannot live in America, he/she should apply for a re-entry permit, that if approved, would allow him/her to remain outside America for up to two years and not lose his/her residency. The US resident needs to explain and document why he/she is unable to reside in the United States.

A green card cannot and would not be mailed to an address outside the United States because as a permanent resident of the United States you are supposed to reside in the United States. Be careful not to allow the green card to expire while you are outside of the United States.

If you are outside the US for less than a year with an expired green card, you will have to apply to the US Embassy for a Transportation Letter (permission) to return. If you are out for more than a year, you will have to apply to come back into the United States as a returning resident. With either application, you have to prove your previous domicile in America.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, esq. is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.