Taking up Commuter Status: What you need to know

Taking up commuter status in the United States means filing an I-90 application and receiving a special commuter green card. The commuter green card is only for full time employees working in Canada or Mexico in addition to the U.S. 

Most applicants who are filing their I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, are doing so because they have had their green card lost or stolen, or it is bound to expire within 6 months. However, there is also the case of applicants filing an I-90 because they are taking up commuter status or vice versa and need a permanent resident card because they are taking up residence in the United States on a permanent basis.

What is Commuter Status?

The commuter status is given to employees of US-based companies who also work in either Canada or Mexico. As such, someone with commuter status is someone who spends their time in both countries. For example, a businessman who spends the majority of his time working in the United States, but also needs to commute frequently for business trips in a Canadian province near the U.S. border. 

It is important for such individuals to file an I-90 application so they can take up commuter status, but in order to be eligible for this special green card, commuters need to satisfy the two following conditions: 

  • Working a full-time schedule; or
  • Performing seasonal work in the United States for 6 months or less, in the aggregate, during any continuous 12-month period

Filling out the I-90 Application

Applicants who are applying for commuter status have the option of using the USCIS online account system to file, or filing by mail. In either case, the filing fee for the I-90 is $455. If you file online, you will be able to see personalized case completion date estimates, respond to RFEs, and manage or update existing contact information. 

If you are planning on mailing in your I-90, applicants should mail their completed and signed applications to the following addresses:

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

P.O. Box 21262
Phoenix, AZ 85036

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attention: I-90
1820 E. Skyharbor, Circle S, Floor 1
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Evidence that applicants should submit with their I-90s if they plan on taking up commuter status include the following:

  • Employment pay stubs showing their most recent paycheck
  • An employment letter on company letterhead showing current employment in the U.S.
  • Address of office in Mexico or Canada the employee regularly travels to and from

I-90 Processing and other Details

Commuter applicants still need to attend a Biometrics appointment after filing their I-90, which typically takes place 4-8 weeks after the applicant has submitted their form and the USCIS has received it.

After this, your I-90 application for commuter status can take anywhere from 8-10 months until a final decision is made and a new green card is mailed to the applicant. Commuter green cards are nearly identical to regular green cards except that the first two characters on the back of the card read “C2”. The number given to LPRs by contrast read “C1”.

Those holding commuter status are not allowed to apply for naturalization until they establish a residence within the United States (by filing another I-90 and specifying their wanting to switch back to permanent resident status). They’re also restricted from sponsoring relatives for green cards until they move into the country.

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