I'm a dual citizen with 2 passports. Let's say passport A and passport B. Passport A is the country of birth / country of origin. Passport B I acquired later in life before immigration to US.

Upon entering US I presented my greencard and was fully prepared to also show my passport. When asked to show one I showed my passport B. I was then surprised that the immigration officer didn't accept the passport B and asked me to present passport A. When I asked for the reason the reply was look at your green card (where the country of origin is) it says Passport A, you have to show me passport A.

I was under impression that I am entitled to show any passport as long as I have at least one I should be permitted to enter is that not true ?

  • 1
    This question is probably on-topic here, too; but you might get a better and faster answer for it on Travel? travel.stackexchange.com
    – cnst
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 2:25
  • Or Expatriates which is about immigration.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 2:58
  • I am sure that if you look up the rules you will find that you must show the passport of the citizenship that the green card was issued against. This should really not come as a surprise. Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 3:32
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson actually a green card holder doesn't need to show any passport to enter the US.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 5:38
  • 1
    @MarkJohnson a green card is not issued "against" any citizenship. In fact, it can be issued to stateless individuals.
    – grovkin
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 3:18

4 Answers 4


Since this is Law Stack Exchange, there ought to be an answer linking to relevant statutes or regulations.

The requirement to present the green card is found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 8 CFR 211.1(a)(2):

(a) General. Except as provided in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, each arriving alien applying for admission (or boarding the vessel or aircraft on which he or she arrives) into the United States for lawful permanent residence, or as a lawful permanent resident returning to an unrelinquished lawful permanent residence in the United States, shall present one of the following:...(2) A valid, unexpired Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, if seeking readmission after a temporary absence of less than 1 year...

The lack of a requirement to present a passport of any sort is found at 8 CFR 211.2(a)(2):

(a) A passport valid for the bearer's entry into a foreign country at least 60 days beyond the expiration date of his or her immigrant visa shall be presented by each immigrant except an immigrant who...(2) Is entering under the provisions of § 211.1(a)(2) through (a)(7);

Since your green card was accepted, we can conclude that you entered under the provision of 211.1(a)(2), and that therefore there was no legal requirement to present any passport whatsoever.


According to the US government, a returning US permanent resident with a green card does not need to have any passport at all to re-enter the US. So obviously it follows that they cannot require one particular country's passport over another.

See the answer from the CBP help site for "Traveling outside US - Documents needed for Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR)/Green Card holders":

United States (U.S.) LPRs do not need a passport to enter the U.S. as per 8 CFR 211.1(a), however, they may need a passport to enter another country.

Also, see the CBP carrier information guide, page 28 (36th page of the PDF):

A Lawful Permanent Resident may travel to the United States without a passport with a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551).

  • The question is "Does immigration officer have a right to ask...?"
    – Greendrake
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 23:03
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    @Greendrake: I guess that's what the title says, but in the description, the question the OP asks is should he/she be permitted to enter. I guess the officer can always ask anything, so whether the officer can ask is kind of a meaningless question. The more relevant question is whether you can be required to present the requested item in order to enter, since if you can just refuse to present what the officer asks, then the officer asking isn't so much an issue.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 23:36
  • "since if you can just refuse to present what the officer asks" — this is the thing. Given that the officer can just deny your entry, can you just refuse? Or will you have to demand hearing before immigration judge to prove your right to enter?
    – Greendrake
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 1:33
  • @Greendrake: I think that, unlike nonimmigrants, where the officer can deny entry on immigrant intent, an officer has much less discretion to deny entry to permanent residents. And yes, if the officer denies you entry at a port of entry inside the US (i.e. not at a preclearance airport), and you decline to leave voluntarily, they would have to put you in removal proceedings in front of an immigration judge. Expedited removal does not apply to permanent residents.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 3:21
  • @Greendrake you're right of course anyone has a right to ask. I didn't express myself correctly. I fixed the title now. What I want to know if I only had my passport B with me at the time would I be in trouble and could be denied entry... Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 12:58

Yes — immigration officers (like anybody) can ask you anything. The right to ask is always there (as opposed to the right to have an answer).

Now, you would only not worry about any rubbish that immigration officer asks if you were a US citizen: these cannot be denied entry.

Because you are not a US citizen, you can be denied entry as the immigration officer pleases, lawfully or not. As a green card holder you would be eligible to appear before the immigration judge and prove that you should be let in.

So, the answer is merely your own judgement call depending on the situation: either subdue and do what the officer asks, or risk delays or even deportation.

  • Very curious what happens in practice if border officer really does deny the entry... what does it mean "eligible for the hearing with a judge" - I imagine that's a scheduled appointment months after the "incident" what happens in the meantime - you sit in the airport like in "The Terminal" movie? Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 13:04
  • @ambidexterous law.stackexchange.com/questions/23497/…
    – Greendrake
    Commented Feb 10, 2020 at 14:27
  • Thanks @Greendrake I read through that answer it gives more perspective for example sounds like greencard holder can’t be removed before the hearing. However I still wonder how soon that hearing is organized and what happens in the meantime? Are there really judges on call in the airport. I assume not. Are there facilities to hold people in airport and then these people are transported to where the judge is. How soon typically. Logistics and timelines are not clear. Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 11:33
  • @ambidexterous Those sound like separate questions, some of them are probably better asked on Travel.SE.
    – Greendrake
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 11:42
  • An immigration officer has no power to refuse entry to a permanent resident. The case must be referred to an immigration judge unless the officer talks the permanent resident into abandoning permanent residence.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 15:47

This is a case where the official sources contradict each other

  • USAGov: Green card only ('No additional document is required')
  • USCIS: need to present a green card ('and any other identity documents you present...')

When arriving from a country where a passport is required, that passport can be demanded (politely written as 'presented') by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer.

In a virtual world, it may be sufficient to quote the USAGov site ('No additional document is required'), but in the real world (where the Border Protection Officer determines if you can enter the United States) showing the passport that matches the green card is advised.

Green Cards and Permanent Residence in the U.S. | USAGov
Permanent and Conditional Residents

  • Absent for less than one year:
    • No additional document is required.
    • Show your Green Card upon your return.

International Travel as a Permanent Resident | USCIS
If seeking to enter the United States after temporary travel abroad, you will need to present a valid, unexpired “Green Card” (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card). When arriving at a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will review your permanent resident card and any other identity documents you present, such as a passport, foreign national I.D. card or U.S. Driver’s License, and determine if you can enter the United States.

USCIS - Glossary

  • Country of -
    • Birth: The country where a person is born.
    • Chargeability: The independent country to which an immigrant entering under the preference system is accredited for purposes of numerical limitations.
    • Citizenship: The country a person is born in or naturalized in (and has not renounced or lost citizenship).
    • Former Allegiance: The previous country of citizenship of a naturalized U.S. citizen.
    • (Last) Residence: The country that an alien habitually resided in before entering the United States.
    • Nationality: The country of a person’s citizenship or country in which the person is deemed a national.

Title 8 (Aliens and Nationality), Code of Federal Regulations
Part III
Issuance of Entry Documents
§1201. Issuance of visas
(a) Immigrants; nonimmigrants

(A) to an immigrant who has made proper application therefor, an immigrant visa which shall consist of the application provided for in section 1202 of this title, visaed by such consular officer, and shall specify the foreign state, if any, to which the immigrant is charged, the immigrant's particular status under such foreign state, the preference, immediate relative, or special immigrant classification to which the alien is charged, the date on which the validity of the visa shall expire, and such additional information as may be required; and

(2) The Secretary of State shall provide to the Service an electronic version of the visa file of each alien who has been issued a visa to ensure that the data in that visa file is available to immigration inspectors at the United States ports of entry before the arrival of the alien at such a port of entry.
§1202. Application for visas
(b) Other documentary evidence for immigrant visa
Every alien applying for an immigrant visa shall present a valid unexpired passport or other suitable travel document, or document of identity and nationality, if such document is required under the regulations issued by the Secretary of State.


  • 2
    The 2nd source seems to say that you may present other identifying information for the purposes of identifying yourself. They would only serve as additional forms of id. This doesn't make them documents authorizing travel or re-entry.
    – grovkin
    Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 11:35
  • 1
    @grovkin The 2nd source, taken togeather with information contained in the question, implies in the end that it must satisfy the Officer to let you in. The Passport B was not sufficient (so the OP claims). Unfortunately how the matter was resolved was not stated by the OP. Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 11:45
  • The matter was resolved by producing the passport A to the border officer’s satisfaction. But it did leave a sour taste in my mouth because I have previously read in some official source that while additional ID is needed to go along with the greencard, a passport is not, moreover a passport matching the greencard. More importantly I started to play various scenarios in my head what if I did not have that particular passport on hand (there are some good reasons why I would not have it) Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 11:28
  • @ambidexterous Yes, I understand that there can be very good reasons for this. I am working through the Policy Manual and corresponding codes, trying to track this down. Question: was the initial immigration visa issued against Passport A? Did that passport recieve a “Processed for I-551” stamp? Was Passport B ever mentioned during the application process? Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 11:41
  • @ambidexterous I think you'll find that your green card does not mention your citizenship but your place of birth. There is no need for the presentation of additional ID along with the green card. The green card alone is sufficient. The USCIS quote at the top of this answer uses the word "any." This means that you may present additional identification and that if you do the officer will examine it. The USCIS quote certainly does not say that you must present additional identification. The first sentence of this answer is incorrect: the two sources do not contradict each other.
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 15:59

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