What is a Commuter Status Green Card?

by | Mar 26, 2024

In this blog post, we’re diving into an interesting topic that might sound a bit complex at first, but don’t worry—we’ll break it down together. It’s all about something called “Commuter Status Green Cards.”

Now, this might be especially intriguing if you’re living in Canada or Mexico but work in the United States, or if you’re simply curious about how immigration laws work. So, let’s get into it!

What Does Commuter Status Mean?

Imagine you live in a house right across the street from a huge, fun playground. But, there’s a rule: if you decide to play in another playground far away and don’t come back, the local playground club might think you don’t want to be a member anymore. However, if you live close by and just go to a different playground because that’s where your school or job is, they’re okay with it as long as you come back regularly.

This is somewhat similar to what “Commuter Status” is in immigration terms. Usually, if you’re a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the U.S. (think of it as being part of the “playground club”), and you decide to move to another country thinking of living there forever, you might lose your LPR status. But, if you’re living in Canada or Mexico and you come to the U.S. for work, there’s a special arrangement called “Commuter Status.”

Types of Commuters

There are two main types:

  1. Regular Employment Commuters: These folks have a job in the U.S. and commute regularly from Canada or Mexico.

  2. Seasonal Workers: These individuals work in the U.S. for up to 6 months within any 12-month period but aren’t in the U.S. all year round.

How Do You Get Commuter Status?

To hop on the commuter bandwagon, you need to:

  • Already be a Lawful Permanent Resident.
  • Live in Canada or Mexico.
  • Prove you have a job in the U.S. (like showing your job letter or pay stubs).

If you check all these boxes, you can apply using Form I-90, and if approved, you’ll get a Permanent Resident Card that shows you’re a commuter.

Changing Your Mind

What if you decide you want to move to the U.S. permanently after being a commuter? No problem! You just use the same Form I-90 to say, “Hey, I’m moving in for good.” You’d need to show some proof of your new U.S. address, like a lease or utility bill.

What If You Don’t Commute Anymore?

If a commuter stops working in the U.S. for more than 6 months without a good reason (like something they couldn’t control), they might lose their LPR status. But, if they can show they’ve worked in the U.S. for at least 90 days in the last 12 months, they might still be okay.

In A Nutshell

Commuter Status Green Cards offer a unique opportunity for those living in Canada or Mexico but working in the U.S. to maintain their ties and benefits as Lawful Permanent Residents. If you’re in this situation, it’s essential to understand the rules and requirements to keep everything running smoothly.

We hope this guide has shed some light on what Commuter Status Green Cards are all about. If you have more questions or need help navigating your commuter status, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at North County Immigration. Happy commuting!

By Anna M. Hysell

Ms. Hysell is the founding and managing attorney of North County Immigration. After graduating from law school at the University of Wisconsin and getting several years of experience, Ms. Hysell returned to her native Southern California to open an office in North San Diego County to serve clients from the Bay Area to the Mexican Border. She frequently speaks at law conferences, law schools, and workshops providing training to other lawyers. Ms. Hysell is committed to representing individuals with the resolve, compassion, ethics, and values she believes everyone deserves.