My wife is travelling back to the US, but forgot to bring the green card with her during travel. So, it is still sitting at home in the US. Would there be a way for someone to bring her the green card behind immigration at the port of entry so she can use it to pass immigration?

Perhaps by mail, or perhaps someone could buy a cheap international flight and meet her there.

BTW, her port of entry is the Seattle airport. They have already allowed her to board.

Other relevant details that surfaced are - she has CR1 visa stamp in passport, but it is from September 2016. I posted a related question here. I originally thought it better to keep the two lines of thinking separate for future readers.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 5:55
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    Can you please let us know how this turned out?
    – Mawg
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 11:03
  • 2
    @Mawg You can read my response below
    – Alex K
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 11:03

6 Answers 6


According to CBP it is very important for her to have her green card.

Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) of the U.S. must present a Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card", Form I-551), a Reentry Permit (if gone for more than 1 year), or a Returning Resident Visa (if gone for 2 years or more) to reenter the United States.

Since you're saying she has already boarded the plane, unless she is coming on a really long haul flight it might already be too late for courier.

The only option at this point I would think is to go to the airport and wait land side, communicate to her via email/text/Whatsapp etc to inform the CBP that she forgot her card at home and is available with her husband/someone else in the arrivals area. If they like they will be able to get to that.

They will not refuse entry before verifying different options they have to assess her residence status and the fact that her documentary proof is available with someone in the arrivals hall can only help, it can't hurt her chances.

What's still unknown is whether the card is close to Seattle airport or not. If the card also has to take a flight to reach there then unfortunately i think this question is being asked a little too late. She will have to attend the landing interview without her green card and try to convince them about it.

Do not courier it now, it is too late and it is far better to have it in someone's possession than to have it stuck in transit.

Since she has a valid visa which allowed her to board the plane, there are chances that she will be admitted under that status even if the green card can not get to her. In that case she will have to go to a deferred inspection site to get her admission status adjusted once she has the green card in her possession.


It is by a stroke of luck that this passenger was allowed to board in the first place. Future readers please note that this may not work for you the same way. On the US port of entry you may get away with it with just a scolding but the port of departure may flat out refuse boarding and that is a much bigger problem. So my advice would be to arrange for your documentation to reach you before your departure for US.

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    I want to emphasize that last bit -- make sure you get the status fixed! Otherwise, even though she has a green card, it could cause serious issues down the line, and no one wants that.
    – anon
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 15:50
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    With 20-20 hindsight, it might have been better to stay outside the US until the green card could have been delivered to her. Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 16:37
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    She doesn't have a valid visa (immigrant visas are single entry and her's is used) but a stamped immigrant visa serves as temporary I-551 for a year (it says so on the visa). I traveled twice with mine before the card arrived. If she's inside a year she is probably technically okay, though she'll likely still get crap for not carrying the actual card.
    – user38879
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:02
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    @HankyPanky: The answer is not wrong. It's just that based on the comments to the question, she already has what this answer says she needs -- she has an I-551 (the immigrant visa, upon being stamped on entry, turned into an I-551 valid for one year from the date of entry). A green card is also an I-551; what she has is the same thing, just in a different form. The OP just left out this important piece of information in the original question. So the rest of the answer assuming that she doesn't have it is not applicable, assuming it's less than one year since her initial entry.
    – user102008
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:24
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    This answer is not wrong. From the OP's other question here the visa endorsement is a 2016 vintage so it is past the one year mark.
    – user38879
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 18:43

My wife has arrived now and passed immigration successfully, so I can answer the question based on this one experience, although it won't necessarily be the same for everyone.

The direct answer - the green card wasn't needed in the end. She had a scanned version of the green card - the immigration officer said they don't accept scanned versions and didn't even look at it.

I called the airport and spoke with an immigration office before arrival. He was quite friendly, and said if she forgot the green card, they do have other options. He did emphasize, however, that he can't guarantee her entry until he meets her and has a discussion.

When my wife arrived, she spoke with this same officer. She said it didn't take very long (about 5 minutes), but the whole process of waiting in immigration - being sent to a private room to meet with this officer, and getting his approval - took long enough that she missed the connecting flight. She had a 1 hour 20 minute layover.

It seems to me that the website wording is intended to appear strict to avoid such situations, but in reality flexibility exists. Calling before hand seemed to help show that it was an honest mistake.

It also seems that the result is up to the officer's discretion; luckily our officer seemed to be having a good day.

As some comments mention - if this happens to you, the hardest part will be boarding in the first place. We were fortunate in that her passport had a visa that was dated 2 years in the future instead of 1 year as it should be.

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    Glad to hear it worked out! I can't say I'm surprised about the connection, though. Even as a citizen, I rarely plan international-to-domestic layovers that short. I waited in line for immigration for about an hour at DTW back in the summer. And then around 2 hours to enter Canada at YYZ T3.
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 2:53
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    "It seems to me that the website wording is intended to appear strict to avoid such situations, but in reality flexibility exists." Pretty much like everything in life!
    – user541686
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 9:11
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    @reirab You might want to consider NEXUS, if you're eligible. It will save you a ton of time at both US and Canada customs and immigration. Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 0:33
  • @JimMacKenzie Good advice. I don't personally need to enter Canada often, but if I did, I'd definitely have enrolled in Nexus. I'd have already enrolled in Global Entry, if the nearest enrollment center weren't 80 miles away and only open for a few hours in the middle of the day on weekdays. :/ I wish CBP would let contractors do GE enrollment interviews like DHS does with TSA PreCheck.
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 5:24
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    "CBP will let you do a GE interview on return from a trip abroad, without appointment, if you clear customs at an airport that does them" - Don't necessarily count on that, though. I attempted to do it once and was turned away.
    – Danica
    Commented Apr 5, 2018 at 15:01

In addition to the advice given in Hanky Panky's answer, if she has a smartphone or other portable electronic device that can access a data network with her, it can't hurt for you to take a picture of her green card and send it to her. They'll probably still want to see the real thing (and, thus, Hanky Panky's advice of trying to meet at the airport with the actual green card is still good advice,) having a picture of the card in her possession can only help her case.

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    The immigration officer said they don't accept it and didn't even look. It could be different for someone else...Like you said, it couldn't hurt.
    – Alex K
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 1:52
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    @AlexK even if the immigration officer didn't look at it, having it could still help show good faith.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 12:15

I cross US-Canada border 3-4 times a week for my work. Once I forgot my Canadian PR card and only realized after crossing into the US. On my way back, I explained the situation to border officer. He told me to park and speak with a different officer. I showed them my driving license and passport and after few simple questions, they allowed me to enter into Canada after verifying it from their systems.

What I was told by border officers which also applies to US green card is that these cards are the important proof that you are a legal resident, BUT they aren't the only proof. If you can prove to officers that you are a legal resident by some documents (like driving license), they will have to let you get into the country because that's where your home is, where else would they send you? But these are extraordinary situations and should not be misused.

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    This is absolutely true if you can get to a border officer. The issue when you are overseas and need to fly home is that the airline won't let you get on the plane to get to the border officer (in the current case the airline screwed up). The cure for this for a US LPR is to visit a consulate, get that officer to verify your status and then buy a transportation letter from her (for a punative $575), which is the same thing but way more expensive and inconvenient.
    – user38879
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 17:33
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    This happened to me as well trying to get back into the US from Canada. I didn't bring my greed card. It took all of 15 minutes to straighten out.
    – Brad
    Commented Apr 4, 2018 at 20:41

Edit: This answer made sense for the original question but is not relevant after that was edited.

Without evidence that she has the right to enter the USA, she may not be allowed to board her flight in the first place.

I would use a courier such as FedEx and send the card to her.

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    Good point! I edited the tense and specified - she has already boarded actually. So it's too late to FedEx or otherwise send the card internationally.
    – Alex K
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 14:02
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    At this point I'd go to the airport and ask the border staff what to do.
    – user16259
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 14:17

EDIT: apparently the temporary I-551 was expired, in which case beats me how she got on the plane

Old answer:

The CR1 visa, even if expired, can be used for entry instead of a green card for a year after the first entry on it. Check-in staff knew this (it even says on the visa) and thus let her board.

So she'll be just fine, and you don't have to do anything.

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    Does it remain valid for use after it has been replaced by an actual green card?
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:41
  • Can you provide references? Because the website says six months from entry date. Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States, unless longer validity is specifically requested by the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in your country. Please review the instructions for guidance Dept. of State Website Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 17:56
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    @TheZealot the text you quote has to do with passport validity required to apply for an immigrant visa. It says nothing about the validity of the endorsed immigrant visa serving as a temporary I-551 after its first use. And an LPR with a valid I-551 doesn't even require a passport, let alone a valid one.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 18:46
  • @phoog Yes it does.
    – Crazydre
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 19:49
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    According to OP's other question, she entered the USA in 2016, therefore the temporary I-551 is now expired.
    – reirab
    Commented Apr 3, 2018 at 21:05

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