The child is a US citizen through one parent's naturalization, but we don't have enough time to get his US passport. Can he use his Green Card to return to the USA?

  • 5
    How urgent is this travel? US passports or emergency travel documents can be issued quite quickly if there's an emergency and you can get to a US consulate. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 3:08
  • 1
    Is the child currently in the US?
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 3:14
  • @Dorothy it's fairly well known that permanent residents can enter the US with only a green card (though boarding an international flight is another matter). The wrinkle here is that the child is a US citizen, which calls the validity of the green card into question.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:54
  • @phoog Although I did the edit, I didn't alter the way it presents (hopefully). It's not clear who has the green card, and, correct me on this, doesn't the minor child have to be in the US to become a citizen via the naturalization of a parent? If so, as you point out, the child would not have a green card.
    – Giorgio
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 19:10
  • @Dorothy it's not clear that the child was outside the US when the parent was naturalized, but the requirement is for the child to be "resident" in the US. I don't know whether a temporary absence from the US is significant.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


I don't see anything that would stop the child from entering.

  • The airline will board the child on the basis of the green card

  • When arriving at the US port of entry, the child will be able to enter because there are only two possibilities:

    • The child is a US permanent resident, in which case they can enter on the green card
    • The child is a US citizen, in which case he/she cannot be denied entry to the US no matter what, regardless of whether he/she has the required documents or not
  • Will there be any problems with advance passenger information processing? For the last few years, I've had to supply my green card number for flights to the US. Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 15:23
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    @PatriciaShanahan perhaps, but if the child hasn't yet applied for a passport, it seems likely that the US government doesn't yet know that the bearer of the green card (i.e., the child) is a US citizen.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 17:51
  • 1
    But would you want to put the child through the hassle and headaches of scenario number 2. Yes you "legally" can not be barred, BUT they can make your life miserable before they let you in and subjecting a child to that is NOT what a good parent does.
    – user13044
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 4:04

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