Commuter Green Cards
There is an exception to the rule that all green card holders must reside in the United States. That exception is when an applicant is a resident of Canada or Mexico and travels from one of these countries to the United States on a daily or frequent basis for purposes of employment. The applicant may apply for immigrant status, otherwise known as a green card, the same manner in which employment-based green cards are applied for via Consular Processing. Once granted, the Canadian or Mexican citizen has administrative permission to commute to the United States for their job while maintaining a green card.
The following are limitations on the commuter green card:
- Commuter green card status must be renewed every six (6) months with a letter from any U.S. employer;
- Commuter green card status can only be extended if the individual continues to work in the U.S. and can prove that he/she has worked in the U.S. for at least ninety (90) days during the last year;
- the employee cannot accept international assignments, or else they risk forfeiting their status;
- the employee cannot apply for U.S. citizenship until he/she resides permanently in the United States and waits the requisite period of time;
- may not be entitled to the same protections as regular green card holders, such as removal proceedings or inadmission to the U.S.;
- not obtainable based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or sponsorship by any other qualifying family member who does not reside or intend to reside in the U.S., due to the affidavit of support requirements;
- cannot sponsor family members for green card status unless the employee moves to the U.S. and then processes paperwork for the family; and
- family of lawful permanent residents who decide to reside permanently in Canada or Mexico will lose their U.S. status if they are unable to meet the employment obligations of the commuter green card.