I-751 Travel Issues

I-751 Travel Issues

Thank you for this service. It’s very helpful and much needed.

I have received the Notice of Action (I-797) after I filed the I-751 (Petition to remove conditions on residence). Can I travel to Canada without the I-551 stamp on my passport? Thanks.
— Anonymous

You are welcome.

As you know from reading the Notice of Action (I-797), this is the receipt notice for the Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions from Permanent Residence. Furthermore, the receipt serves as proof of your lawful permanent resident status. The receipt effectively extends your permanent resident status for one year.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website (http://www.cbp.gov/) as of July 29, 2008, “Foreign nationals that are lawful permanent residents of the United States must present a Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”, INS 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. U.S. lawful permanent residents are not required by the United States to have a passport for travel, although most foreign destinations will require you to have one to enter their country.”

So long as you are the principal beneficiary (i.e. the named individual) on the I-797 and are not the derivative beneficiary of the petition (derivative beneficiaries do not receive receipt notices in their name), the I-797 is temporary proof of your permanent resident status and takes the place of the “green card.” Thus, assuming you are otherwise eligible to travel outside and to re-enter the USA, you should be able to travel to Canada with only the I-797, your expired green card, and your valid passport. However, with the increased enforcement and security measures at the Mexican and Canadian border, to avoid complications at the port of entry, you may want to schedule an INFOPASS appointment through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website (http://www.uscis.gov/) at your local office to have an I-551 stamp put in your valid passport. You should bring with you to the INFOPASS appointment the original I-797, your valid passport, your expired green card, and another form of government-issued identification.

If you have further questions about your eligibility to travel outside the United States, it may be a good decision to consult with an immigration attorney to discuss your specific situation.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys

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Last updated: August 11, 2008