An expired inexperienced card may break your trip. Here is what you might want to know

Touring with an expired inexperienced card is at all times a nasty thought, and Sheilla…

An expired inexperienced card may break your trip. Here is what you might want to know

Touring with an expired inexperienced card is at all times a nasty thought, and Sheilla Bergara simply discovered that out for herself the arduous manner.

Earlier, Bergara and her husband’s plans for a tropical trip ended abruptly on the United Airways check-in counter. That is the place an airline consultant knowledgeable Bergara that she couldn’t enter Mexico from the U.S. together with her expired inexperienced card. In consequence, United Airways refused to permit the couple to board their flight to Cancun.

Sheilla’s husband, Paul, says the airline made a mistake denying the couple boarding and ruined their trip plans. He maintains that his spouse’s inexperienced card extension permits her to journey internationally. However United Airways disagrees and considers the matter closed.

Paul needs United Airways to reopen his grievance and admit to creating an error that value him $3,000 to repair.

He believes the truth that the couple flew to Mexico the subsequent day on Spirit Airways with the identical expired inexperienced card proves his case. However does it?

That is what TPG needs to seek out out for our readers and this couple.

Planning a world getaway — with some inexperienced card problems


Final spring, Paul and his spouse accepted an invite to a July wedding ceremony in Mexico. Sheilla, a conditional everlasting resident of america, had one drawback, nevertheless: Her inexperienced card had simply expired.

Though she had utilized for her new everlasting residency card throughout the required time-frame, the approval course of takes as much as 12-18 months. She knew that there was no manner that her substitute inexperienced card would arrive in time for the journey.

Paul, an skilled traveler, did some analysis, studying by means of the steerage on the Mexican Consulate’s web site. Based mostly on that data, he decided that Sheilla’s expired inexperienced card would not stop her from touring to Cancun.

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“Whereas we’re ready for my spouse’s new inexperienced card, she was granted an I-797. This doc extends the conditional inexperienced card for a further two years,” Paul defined to me. “So we did not anticipate any issues touring to Mexico.”

Feeling assured that every one was so as, the couple used Expedia to e-book their nonstop flight from Chicago to Cancun and seemed ahead to the Mexican getaway. They did not give the expired inexperienced card one other thought.

Till the day they had been set to go away for his or her tropical journey, that’s. That is when it turned clear that touring internationally with an expired inexperienced card was a nasty thought.

United Airways: You possibly can’t enter Mexico with an expired inexperienced card


On the day they anticipated to be sipping pina coladas on a Caribbean seashore by lunchtime, the couple arrived early on the airport. Stepping as much as the United Airways counter, they handed over all of their paperwork and waited patiently to obtain their boarding passes. Not anticipating any issues, the 2 made small discuss whereas the United agent typed away at her keyboard.

When the boarding passes didn’t materialize after a while, the couple started to surprise what was responsible for the delay.

The somber-looking agent seemed up from her laptop display screen and gave the 2 the unhealthy information: Sheilla couldn’t journey to Mexico with an expired inexperienced card. Nor would her legitimate passport from the Philippines enable her to clear immigration in Cancun. To be allowed on the flight, she wanted a Mexican visa, the United Airways agent informed them.

Paul tried to cause with the consultant, explaining that the I-797 made the inexperienced card nonetheless legitimate.

“She informed me no. Then the agent confirmed us an inside doc that mentioned United Airways had been fined for flying I-797 extension holders to Mexico,” Paul informed me. “She informed us this wasn’t an airline coverage however a Mexican authorities coverage.”

Paul says he was assured the agent was fallacious, however he realized arguing additional was serving no function. When the consultant really useful that Paul and Sheilla cancel their flight in order that they might obtain a United Airways future flight credit score, he agreed.

The bewildered couple gathered their baggage and headed again to their automotive.

“I figured I might appropriate this drawback with United Airways later,” Paul informed me. “First, I wanted to discover a solution to get us to Mexico for the marriage.”

And that is precisely what he did.

Will Spirit Airways take this couple to Mexico?


Quickly Paul obtained a notification that United Airways had canceled their reservation and given them $1,147 in future flight credit for the missed flight to Cancun. However the couple had booked their itinerary utilizing Expedia, which constructed the journey as two one-way, unrelated tickets. In consequence, the return flight on Frontier was not refundable. That airline charged the couple $458 to cancel and likewise issued a $1,146 future flight credit score. Expedia additionally charged the couple a $99 cancellation payment.

Paul then turned his sights to Spirit Airways, which he hoped wouldn’t elevate an analogous concern as United.

“I booked a flight on Spirit Airways for the subsequent day so we would not miss our total journey. That last-minute ticket value over $2,000,” mentioned Paul. “It was an costly solution to appropriate United Airways’ mistake, however I had no different alternative.”

The subsequent day, the couple walked as much as the Spirit Airways check-in counter with the identical paperwork because the day earlier than. Paul was sure that Sheilla had all the pieces she wanted to journey to Mexico efficiently.

This time, issues went very in another way. They handed their paperwork to the Spirit Airways agent, and at once, the couple had their boarding passes.

Inside hours, Mexican immigration officers stamped Sheilla’s passport, and shortly the couple was lastly having fun with these beachside cocktails. The Bergaras had an uneventful and pleasant (and vindicating, based on Paul) journey as soon as they lastly reached Mexico.

Warning others about this inexperienced card fiasco

When the couple returned dwelling from their trip, Paul was decided to verify the sort of fiasco would not occur to some other inexperienced card holder.

After sending his grievance to United Airways and receiving no acknowledgment that it had made an error, Paul despatched his story to [email protected] and requested for assist. Quickly, his troubling story landed in my inbox.

An excerpt from Paul’s letter to TPG:

I wished to share this to verify it does not occur to different passengers and make United replace its coverage concerning this.

Mexico does settle for expired Inexperienced Playing cards with I-797 extension letters, and United Airways shouldn’t deny passengers boarding. Our trip was ruined, however we tried to make the most effective of it at a price.

After I learn by means of Paul’s narrative about what had occurred to the couple, I felt horrible about their expertise.

Nevertheless, I additionally suspected that United Airways had not made a mistake in refusing to permit Sheilla to journey to Mexico together with her expired inexperienced card.

I’ve dealt with 1000’s of shopper complaints over time. A good portion of these circumstances contain vacationers who get tripped up by the transit and entry necessities of overseas locations. This has by no means been extra true than in the course of the pandemic. In truth, extremely competent, skilled worldwide vacationers have had holidays ruined by the complicated, rapidly altering journey restrictions brought on by the coronavirus.

Nevertheless, the pandemic was not the reason for Paul and Sheilla’s state of affairs. This trip debacle resulted from a misunderstanding of the sophisticated guidelines of journey for a everlasting resident of america.

I reviewed the present data offered by the Mexican Consulate and doubled-checked what I believed to be the case.

There was unhealthy information for Paul: Mexico doesn’t settle for the I-797 as a legitimate doc for journey. Sheilla was touring with an invalid inexperienced card, a passport from the Philippines and no visa.

United Airways had made the proper resolution by rejecting her boarding of the flight certain for Mexico.

US inexperienced card holders shouldn’t try and journey internationally

Inexperienced card holders ought to by no means depend on an I-797 doc to supply proof of U.S. residency in another country. That kind is for U.S. immigration officers and can enable a inexperienced card holder to return dwelling. However no different authorities is obligated to simply accept the I-797 extension as proof of U.S. residency – and so they doubtless won’t.

In truth, the Mexican Consulate signifies explicitly that the I-797 with an expired inexperienced card is just not acceptable for entry and that the everlasting resident’s passport and inexperienced card have to be unexpired:

If you’re a Everlasting Resident of … america … you do not want a visa to enter Mexico for tourism, enterprise or transit functions. All people on this class are required to current their legitimate and unexpired Resident Card together with their passports. Each paperwork have to be legitimate throughout your total keep in Mexico.

I shared this data with Paul, stating that United Airways risked being fined if that they had allowed Sheilla to board the airplane and she or he had been rejected for entry. He reviewed the blurb from the consulate however jogged my memory that Spirit Airways hadn’t discovered Sheilla’s paperwork problematic – nor had the immigration officers in Cancun.

Whereas that was true, it does not show that United Airways was fallacious.

Immigration officers have some flexibility when deciding whether or not to permit a customer entry. Sheilla may have simply as simply been rejected, detained and returned to america on the subsequent obtainable flight. (I’ve reported many circumstances wherein a traveler’s inadequate entry paperwork ended with a visit to a holding cell and a speedy return again to the place they began. It is fairly an disagreeable expertise.)

As Paul wasn’t solely satisfied, I contacted the U.S. Consulate in Cancun for readability.

Quickly I had the definitive reply that Paul was on the lookout for — and one which he needs to share with others so they do not find yourself in the identical state of affairs.

Guests should have a legitimate passport and legitimate inexperienced card


The consulate in Cancun confirmed that: “Typically, a U.S. resident who travels into the nation of Mexico should have a legitimate passport (nation of origin) and legitimate U.S. visa LPR Inexperienced Card.”

Sheilla may have utilized for a Mexican visa — which generally takes 10-14 days to approve — and sure may have traveled with out incident. However the expired inexperienced card with the I-797 was not one thing that United Airways was required to simply accept.

For his personal peace of thoughts, I really useful that Paul use the Worldwide Air Transport Affiliation’s free customized passport, visa and well being checker to see what it mentioned about Sheilla’s skill to journey to Mexico with out a visa.

The skilled model of this instrument (Timatic) is what many airways use at check-in to make certain their passengers have the paperwork wanted to board their flights. Nevertheless, vacationers can and will use the free model lengthy earlier than they head to the airport to make sure they are not lacking any crucial paperwork mandatory for his or her journey.

When Paul added all of Sheilla’s customized information, Timatic had the reply that may have been useful to the couple months in the past – and would have saved them almost $3,000: Sheilla wanted a visa to journey to Mexico.

She was lucky that the immigration officer in Cancun allowed her entry with out issues. As I do know from many circumstances I’ve coated, being denied boarding for a flight to a vacation spot is fairly deflating. Getting detained in a single day and deported again to your property nation with no refund and no trip included is far worse, nevertheless.

Ultimately, Paul is proud of the readability the couple has obtained since Sheilla will doubtless be holding that expired inexperienced card for the close to future. As with all authorities processes in the course of the pandemic, candidates ready for renewed paperwork ought to count on delays.

However now the couple is evident — ought to they resolve to journey internationally once more throughout their wait, Sheilla can be positive to not depend on that I-797 as her journey doc.

What you might want to learn about touring internationally with a inexperienced card

Holding an expired inexperienced card will at all times make navigating the world tougher. Vacationers who try and fly internationally with an expired inexperienced card could encounter challenges on each the outbound and inbound portion of their journey.

An expired inexperienced card is just not proof of everlasting residency

A sound inexperienced card is one that’s not expired. The holder of an expired inexperienced card does not routinely lose their everlasting residency standing, however it’s fairly precarious to aim worldwide journey with the doc in that state.

Not solely is an expired inexperienced card not a legitimate doc to enter most overseas international locations, however it is usually not a legitimate doc to reenter america. Inexperienced card holders ought to preserve that in thoughts as they’re nearing their card’s expiration.

Ought to the cardboard expire whereas the holder is overseas, they might encounter difficulties boarding their return flight or at immigration. It is at all times finest to use for renewal nicely earlier than the expiration date. Everlasting residents could start the renewal course of as much as six months earlier than the precise expiration date of the cardboard. (Be aware: Conditional everlasting residents cannot begin the method till 90 days earlier than their inexperienced card expires.)

Hold your passport present

Whereas touring overseas, inexperienced card holders should additionally current a legitimate passport from their nation of origin (or refugee papers). So protecting that passport present can be crucial.

A passenger trying to journey internationally with an expired inexperienced card could possibly use their legitimate passport as a stand-alone entry doc relying on the vacation spot. Sadly for Sheilla, her passport is from the Philippines, and Mexico requires a visa for these passport holders as nicely.

Examine with the US State Division and Consulate

The U.S. State Division supplies vacation spot data — together with entry necessities and consulate contact particulars for almost each nation worldwide. This is a wonderful useful resource for all vacationers, particularly these with sophisticated citizenship. The consulate of your meant vacation spot can reply your questions and ensure whether or not you may want further paperwork for entry — lengthy earlier than you present up on the check-in counter.

Use Timatic

One other incredible useful resource for worldwide vacationers is the IATA’s customized passport, visa and well being checker. The skilled model of this instrument, known as Timatic, is what most airways use to find out if a passenger has the required documentation for journey.

This can be a extremely dependable indicator of whether or not or not you’ve what you may have to board your flight and cross by means of immigration at your vacation spot. In truth, in the course of the pandemic, this database was up to date many instances every day to maintain up with the ever-changing entry necessities around the globe. If you happen to use this instrument accurately, you’ll considerably scale back the possibilities of any sort of documentation issues on the airport or upon touchdown at your transit or ultimate vacation spot.

Do not depend on paper extensions to journey

All the time do not forget that extension papers issued by america for inexperienced card holders are primarily in order that the resident can reenter the nation. No immigration officers overseas are required to simply accept that paper extension. Even when an airline will enable a passenger to fly to a overseas land with an expired inexperienced card and extension, it is not a good suggestion. That traveler is risking being detained and returned dwelling on the subsequent flight with no refund, and no trip included — a real journey nightmare.

The underside line

Navigating the globe with a sophisticated citizenship is tough. Ensure that to do your due diligence earlier than your subsequent journey, and you’ll enormously scale back any probability that you’re going to end up rejected on the check-in counter.

If you happen to do encounter an issue in your subsequent journey and you’ll’t resolve the issue by yourself, ship your request for assist to [email protected], and I can be pleased to analyze your grievance, too.