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?

  • How long have you been away from the US?
    – phoog
    Jul 12 '17 at 12:17
  • 3
    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 '17 at 12:50
  • 1
    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 '17 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 '17 at 19:07

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.

  • 1
    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 '17 at 21:08
  • Vietnam does not require a passport for US resident Vietnamese. See my answer
    – Crazydre
    Jul 13 '17 at 19:07

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.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.