Me and a friend of mine who is a Green Card holder are planning a road trip from Seattle to Tijuana by car. To avoid a long queue we are planning to cross the Mexican border on foot and go back after a few hours, hence no FMM would be required from either of us and neither would Mexican immigration stamp our passports.

Here comes the catch - as a Green Card holder, my friend cannot stay out of the US for more than a few months at time. But given that the US land border doesn't have exit immigration and neither does Mexico have entry immigration at Tijuana, there would be absolutely no record of our absence from the country. And therefore my friend won't be able to prove how long he's been out of the country when crossing back to the US through the land bridge.

What documents does the US recommend having in this scenario to prove you haven't actually stayed abroad for a few years? Or is my friend unnecessarily concerned and no one would care about his absence at the land border crossing?

Note that this issue doesn't concern me as a regular visa holder as my I-94 would still be valid at re-entry and the US doesn't care about anything else at this point.

  • 1
    Vancouver Canada? There would be record of entering the US from Vancouver
    – Midavalo
    Sep 18, 2018 at 3:44
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    I'm not sure I follow the question. You enter the US on say Oct 3 then reenter from Mexico on Oct 13, clearly you've only been out of the country no more than 10 days. Or am I missing your point?
    – Midavalo
    Sep 18, 2018 at 3:59
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    Except that the CBP will have record of you entering from Canada. So you'll only have been out of the US no longer than since the day you entered from Canada.
    – Midavalo
    Sep 18, 2018 at 4:23
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    @JonathanReez no, the question is about a road trip from Vancouver to Tijuana. If you want to change the question, do it, but don't assert in the comments that part of the question is to be ignored.
    – phoog
    Sep 18, 2018 at 6:02
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    @phoog the question is about re-entry from Tijuana. Vancouver is only there for context. I've changed it to Seattle to avoid confusion. I will be traveling from Vancouver alone and pick up my friend in Washington state.
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 18, 2018 at 6:22

1 Answer 1


The US doesn't recommend any particular document. The immigration officer may ask "how long have you been out of the US," and there's a 99% chance that they'll believe the answer "for a few hours" since you'll be entering by foot from Tijuana.

In the infinitesimally small probability that the immigration officer does not believe it, he or she will perhaps check the CBP database, which will show the last entry into the US (in this example, a few days earlier). This will satisfy the officer that the permanent resident has not been outside the US for a long time.

In the case where the permanent resident has been inside the US for several years, any receipts that might be floating around in pockets will do.

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