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I'm from Vietnam and am not a US citizen. I returned to Vietnam for a visit, but I I lost my passport that has my US visa sticker in it. I still have my Green Card. Can I go back to the US with just that?

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  • How long have you been away from the US?
    – phoog
    Jul 12, 2017 at 12:17
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    What kind of visa? Are you talking about the SB1 (returning resident)? Otherwize, please, explain how is the US visa relevant to your entry on a green card?
    – mzu
    Jul 12, 2017 at 12:50
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    I'm away from the US for 2 weeks. I'm a US permanent resident. Many people told me that if I wanted to leave Vietnam, I need the passport and the US visa that verify the allowance for coming back to the US
    – Elan Pham
    Jul 13, 2017 at 9:41
  • "Many people told me that if I wanted to leave Vietnam, I need the passport and the US visa that verify the allowance for coming back to the US" They don't know what they're talking about - it's just plain wrong. See my answer'
    – Crazydre
    Jul 13, 2017 at 19:07

2 Answers 2

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The US will allow you to re-enter with only your green card, unless you have lost your permanent residence status (more below). Vietnam may require you to have a passport before you leave, however, as will the countries through which you are transiting, if any. You should probably get a passport before you leave.

Whether you need to replace the US visa before you return depends on what kind of visa it was.

  • If it was the immigrant visa you used to immigrate to the US, you do not need to replace it, because it was already replaced by your green card.
  • If it was an unused returning resident visa, you should replace it

More precisely, whether you need a visa to enter the US depends on the rules for the loss of permanent residence:

Abandoning Permanent Resident Status

You may also lose your permanent resident status by intentionally abandoning it. You may be found to have abandoned your status if you:

  • Move to another country, intending to live there permanently.
  • Remain outside of the United States for an extended period of time, unless you intended this to be a temporary absence, as shown by:
    • The reason for your trip;
    • How long you intended to be absent from the United States;
    • Any other circumstances of your absence; and
    • Any events that may have prolonged your absence.
    • Note: Obtaining a re-entry permit from USCIS before you leave, or a returning resident visa (SB-1) from a U.S. consulate while abroad, may assist you in showing that you intended only a temporary absence.
  • Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States for any period.
  • Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your U.S. tax returns.

If you have abandoned your permanent resident status, you cannot use your green card to enter the US. In that case, you will need a visa.

If you have been outside the US for more than a year, you will need a new immigrant visa, called a returning resident visa.

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    Note that whether the green card can be used for re-entry and whether residence is abandoned are two separate things. The green card is not valid for re-entry after an absence of more than one year, but that doesn't mean residence is abandoned. The person may have another document that allows re-entry like an unexpired re-entry permit. Or, the person might choose to travel to the US with no document that allows re-entry and the immigration officer or an immigration judge can let the person in anyway if they determine that he/she did not abandon residence.
    – user102008
    Jul 12, 2017 at 21:08
  • Vietnam does not require a passport for US resident Vietnamese. See my answer
    – Crazydre
    Jul 13, 2017 at 19:07
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As stated in Timatic, the database used by airlines:

Passport exemptions: Passengers with a Permanent Resident/Resident Alien Card (Form I-551).

For Vietnamese border control:

Passport Exemptions: - Nationals of Viet Nam residing in the USA with a Certificate of Visa Exemption together with: a US Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551)

So if you can get a Certificate of Visa exemption (required to exit Vietnam), then you do not need a passport to to travel, only a Green card, although some US officials have been known to require a passport. If they (incorrectly) tell you you cannot re-enter the US without one, ask for their supervisor.

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