Commuting to the United States as a Permanent Resident: ‘Alien Commuters’ or ‘Green Card Commuters’


Generally, a foreign national who is a permanent resident of the United States must reside permanently in the United States or else risk losing permanent resident status. However, persons who have been granted U.S. permanent resident status can live in Canada or Mexico, even though they have no actual residence in the United States, without losing permanent resident status or a “green card” if they commute regularly to employment in the United States. Such persons are considered to be “alien commuters” or “green card commuters.”

A. Qualifications for Alien Commuter Status -

Alien commuter status stems from a U.S. administrative practice dating back to at least 1927, of admitting commuters as immigrants and permitting them border-crossing privileges as returning residents afterwards, despite the lack of a permanent residence in the United States. While there is no statute covering the category, there are regulations concerning the special condition, primarily at 8 CFR 211.5 and 8 CFR 316.5.

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