Touring with an expired inexperienced card is all the time a nasty concept, and Sheilla Bergara simply discovered that out for herself the onerous means.
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 criticism and admit to creating an error that price 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 global getaway — with some inexperienced card issues
Final spring, Paul and his spouse accepted an invite to a July marriage ceremony in Mexico. Sheilla, a conditional everlasting resident of america, had one downside, nonetheless: Her inexperienced card had simply expired.
Though she had utilized for her new everlasting residency card throughout the required timeframe, the approval course of takes as much as 12-18 months. She knew that there was no means that her alternative inexperienced card would arrive in time for the journey.
Paul, an skilled traveler, did some analysis, studying via the steerage on the Mexican Consulate’s web site. Primarily based on that info, he decided that Sheilla’s expired inexperienced card would not forestall 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 each one was so as, the couple used Expedia to ebook their nonstop flight from Chicago to Cancun and regarded ahead to the Mexican getaway. They did not give the expired inexperienced card one other thought.
Till the day they had been set to depart 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 concept.
United Airways: You’ll be able to’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 marvel what was the reason for the delay.
The somber-looking agent regarded up from her laptop display and gave the 2 the dangerous information: Sheilla couldn’t journey to Mexico with an expired inexperienced card. Nor would her legitimate passport from the Philippines permit her to clear immigration in Cancun. To be allowed on the flight, she wanted a Mexican visa, the United Airways agent advised them.
Paul tried to cause with the consultant, explaining that the I-797 made the inexperienced card nonetheless legitimate.
“She advised 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 advised me. “She advised us this wasn’t an airline coverage however a Mexican authorities coverage.”
Paul says he was assured the agent was incorrect, however he realized arguing additional was serving no objective. 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 right this downside with United Airways later,” Paul advised me. “First, I wanted to discover a method 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 in addition issued a $1,146 future flight credit score. Expedia additionally charged the couple a $99 cancellation charge.
Paul then turned his sights to Spirit Airways, which he hoped wouldn’t increase an identical challenge 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 price over $2,000,” mentioned Paul. “It was an costly method to right United Airways’ mistake, however I had no different selection.”
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 things 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 directly, 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 gratifying (and vindicating, in line with 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 ensure this kind of fiasco would not occur to another inexperienced card holder.
After sending his criticism to United Airways and receiving no acknowledgment that it had made an error, Paul despatched his story to firstname.lastname@example.org 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 ensure it would not occur to different passengers and make United replace its coverage relating to this.
Mexico does settle for expired Inexperienced Playing cards with I-797 extension letters, and United Airways mustn’t deny passengers boarding. Our trip was ruined, however we tried to make the very best of it at a value.
Once I learn via Paul’s narrative about what had occurred to the couple, I felt horrible about their expertise.
Nonetheless, 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 international locations. This has by no means been extra true than through the pandemic. In truth, extremely competent, skilled worldwide vacationers have had holidays ruined by the complicated, shortly altering journey restrictions attributable to the coronavirus.
Nonetheless, 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 info supplied by the Mexican Consulate and doubled-checked what I believed to be the case.
There was dangerous information for Paul: Mexico doesn’t settle for the I-797 as a sound doc for journey. Sheilla was touring with an invalid inexperienced card, a passport from the Philippines and no visa.
United Airways had made the right choice by rejecting her boarding of the flight certain for Mexico.
US inexperienced card holders mustn’t try to journey internationally
Inexperienced card holders ought to by no means depend on an I-797 doc to supply proof of U.S. residency out of the country. That type is for U.S. immigration officers and can permit 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 is not going to.
In truth, the Mexican Consulate signifies explicitly that the I-797 with an expired inexperienced card just isn’t acceptable for entry and that the everlasting resident’s passport and inexperienced card should 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 should be legitimate throughout your total keep in Mexico.
I shared this info with Paul, stating that United Airways risked being fined if they’d allowed Sheilla to board the airplane and he or she 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 would not show that United Airways was incorrect.
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 accessible flight. (I’ve reported many circumstances wherein a traveler’s inadequate entry paperwork ended with a visit to a holding cell and a fast return again to the place they began. It is fairly an disagreeable expertise.)
As Paul wasn’t totally satisfied, I contacted the U.S. Consulate in Cancun for readability.
Quickly I had the definitive reply that Paul was in search of — 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 sound passport and legitimate inexperienced card
The consulate in Cancun confirmed that: “Usually, a U.S. resident who travels into the nation of Mexico should have a sound 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 certain 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 personalised passport, visa and well being checker to see what it mentioned about Sheilla’s capacity 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 sure their passengers have the paperwork wanted to board their flights. Nonetheless, vacationers can and may use the free model lengthy earlier than they head to the airport to make sure they don’t seem to be lacking any vital paperwork obligatory for his or her journey.
When Paul added all of Sheilla’s personalised knowledge, Timatic had the reply that will have been useful to the couple months in the past – and would have saved them practically $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 own home nation with no refund and no trip included is far worse, nonetheless.
In the long run, Paul is pleased with 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 through the pandemic, candidates ready for renewed paperwork ought to anticipate delays.
However now the couple is obvious — ought to they resolve to journey internationally once more throughout their wait, Sheilla will probably be positive to not depend on that I-797 as her journey doc.
What you have to learn about touring internationally with a inexperienced card
Holding an expired inexperienced card will all the time make navigating the world tougher. Vacationers who try to fly internationally with an expired inexperienced card could encounter challenges on each the outbound and inbound portion of their journey.
An expired inexperienced card just isn’t proof of everlasting residency
A sound inexperienced card is one that’s not expired. The holder of an expired inexperienced card would not mechanically lose their everlasting residency standing, nevertheless it’s fairly precarious to aim worldwide journey with the doc in that state.
Not solely is an expired inexperienced card not a sound doc to enter most international international locations, however it’s also not a sound doc to reenter america. Inexperienced card holders ought to maintain 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 all the time finest to use for renewal effectively 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.)
Preserve your passport present
Whereas touring overseas, inexperienced card holders should additionally current a sound passport from their nation of origin (or refugee papers). So conserving that passport present can be vital.
A passenger making an attempt to journey internationally with an expired inexperienced card might be able to 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 effectively.
Examine with the US State Division and Consulate
The U.S. State Division offers vacation spot info — together with entry necessities and consulate contact particulars for practically each nation worldwide. This is a wonderful useful resource for all vacationers, particularly these with sophisticated citizenship. The consulate of your supposed vacation spot can reply your questions and make sure whether or not you will want further paperwork for entry — lengthy earlier than you present up on the check-in counter.
One other implausible useful resource for worldwide vacationers is the IATA’s personalised 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 will have what you will have to board your flight and cross via immigration at your vacation spot. In truth, through the pandemic, this database was up to date many occasions every day to maintain up with the ever-changing entry necessities world wide. In case you use this instrument appropriately, you’ll considerably scale back the probabilities of any sort of documentation issues on the airport or upon touchdown at your transit or last vacation spot.
Do not depend on paper extensions to journey
At all times keep in mind 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 permit a passenger to fly to a international land with an expired inexperienced card and extension, it isn’t 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 difficult. Make sure that to do your due diligence earlier than your subsequent journey, and you’ll enormously scale back any likelihood that you’re going to end up rejected on the check-in counter.
In case you do encounter an issue in your subsequent journey and you’ll’t resolve the issue by yourself, ship your request for assist to email@example.com, and I will probably be comfortable to research your criticism, too.