A Re-entry Permit is a travel document that looks similar to a passport and can function like a passport. Lawful permanent residents or conditional permanent residents who plan to travel outside the United States for more than one year, but less than two years, may apply for a Re-entry Permit. It’s a multiple use travel document, meaning that it can be used several times (during the valid period) to reenter the United States.
How a Re-entry Permit Helps?
A Re-entry Permit has two basic functions:
- The travel document allows a U.S. permanent resident to reenter the United States after traveling abroad for longer than one year but less than two years.
- It also can serve like a passport for a U.S. permanent resident if he/she has no passport and cannot obtain it from the country of his/her nationality.
Benefits of a Re-entry Permit for Permanent Residents
A permanent resident can generally travel outside the United States and return by simply showing a permanent resident card (green card) upon Re-entry at a U.S. port of entry.But there are situations that a Re-entry permit is needed in addition to the permanent resident card.
A Re-entry permit can help avoid two types of problems:
- Your permanent resident card becomes technically invalid for Re-entry into the United States if you are absent from the U.S. for one year or more.
- Your permanent resident status may be considered as abandoned for absences shorter than one year if you take up residence in another country.
Employment, family, filing of taxes , involvement in the community all demonstrate ties to the U.S. To determine your intentions, some of the questions that a CBP officer may ask cover topics such as:
- Purpose for departing;
- Termination date of travel abroad;
- Place of employment;
- Place of actual home and property ties;
- Family ties to the U.S. ;
- Filing of U.S. income tax returns as a U.S. resident;
- The proportion of time you are in the U.S. versus abroad.
Purpose of the Re-entry Permit for Permanent Residents
The main purpose of a Re-entry permit is that it establishes that you did not intend to abandon your U.S. permanent resident status, and it allows you to apply for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to two years without having to obtain a returning resident visa. A U.S. permanent resident must maintain residence in the United States. As previously mentioned, a permanent resident card becomes technically invalid for Re-entry into the United States if the permanent resident is absent from the U.S. for one year or more. Extensive travel to another country, even for trips of less than one year, can create suspicion that the permanent resident has established residence in another country. This generally becomes an issue at Re-entry to the United States through an interview by the CBP officer.
A Re-entry permit can also serve as a travel document. In some cases, permanent residents are not able to get a passport from their home country. This is generally the case if the permanent resident is “stateless” or has fled a country in fear of persecution (asylees and refugees). Since a permanent resident also cannot obtain a U.S. passport, another travel document is required. In these situations a permit is obtained to use as a travel document.
On rare occasion, a permanent resident may obtain a Re-entry permit to visit a certain country because that country will not honor a passport of the resident’s country of nationality.
No Re-entry Permit Required for Some Residents
Certain permanent residents can reenter the U.S. with only their permanent resident card, even after an absence of more than one year. Included in this group are civilian employees of U.S. Government agencies returning from assignments abroad on official orders and a spouse or child of a civilian employee of the U.S. Government or a spouse or child of a member of the U.S. armed forces as described in 8 CFR 211.1(a)(6).
Problems without a Permit
Without a Re-entry permit, it is likely that a permanent resident will encounter stiff questioning from a CBP officer when attempting to reenter the United States. If unsatisfied, the CBP officer may refer you to an immigration court for removal proceedings. At the very least, a permanent resident will undergo a time-consuming hassle that could translate into an expensive attorney bill. All of this can be prevented by obtaining a Re-entry permit for permanent residents before traveling abroad.
If a CBP officer notices that you’ve been abroad for a significant period of time, you may be advised that a non-temporary trip abroad will lead to abandonment of your permanent resident status. In some cases, the officer may even make a notation on your passport stamp that you have been “advised”. This is strong indicator that you may be at risk for your next Re-entry. Speak to an immigration attorney before traveling abroad again. Most likely, obtaining a Re-entry permit and maintaining ties to the United States will resolve this issue..
Form I-131 Application
To apply for a Re-entry permit, permanent residents should file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. There is a filing fee of USD $575 and an additional USD $85 biometrics fee will be required for applicants ages 14-79. As for the applicants ages 13 or younger there is a filing fee of USD $575.
You must file Form I-131 while you are physically present in the United States. It will generally take at least 90 days for USCIS to approve the request. Expedited processing may be available for certain applicants.
Period of Validity
In general, a Re-entry Permit issued to a permanent resident is valid for two years from the date of issuance. However, the period of validity can vary for certain permanent residents with extensive time outside the country as well as conditional residents.
USCIS will not renew or extend Re-entry Permits. If your permit expires, you’ll need to apply for a new one. For security reasons, USCIS will not issue a new permit to someone who already has a valid one in his or her possession. If you have a valid permit in your possession, you will need to send it in when you apply for a new one. You do not need to send in an expired permit.
If your circumstances force you to be outside the United States for extended periods of time, seek advice from an immigration lawyer that can analyze your specific situation and recommend how to maintain your permanent residence.
Not a Cure All
Obtaining a Re-entry Permit doesn’t make a permanent resident “immune” from abandonment issues. Even with this travel document, permanent residents can be at risk of losing permanent resident status through abandonment. Permanent residents must continue to maintain ties to the United States and the travel must be temporary in nature.
Even with a Re-entry Permit, a permanent resident’s absence of more than 180 days from the United States may disrupt the 5-year continuous residence requirement for naturalization. Instead, some permanent residents may be eligible to file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes. Use this form if you are a lawful permanent resident who must leave the United States for a period of one year or longer for certain employment purposes and you want to preserve your status as an immigrant in order to pursue naturalization.
The applicant must be physically located in the U.S. at the time the application is filed. The applicant must also be present in the U.S. for the biometrics appointment, and the Re-entry permit can only be mailed to a U.S. mailing address.
Permits Not Always Valid for Two Years
Re-entry permits for permanent residents are generally valid for two years from the date on which USCIS issues the permit. However, pursuant to 8 CFR 223.2(c)(2), a permanent resident who, since becoming an lawful permanent resident or during the past five (5) years, whichever is less, has been outside of the U.S. for more than four (4) years in the aggregate, will be issued a permit with validity of only one (1) year from the date of issuance.
Exceptions are made for certain permanent residents employed by public international organization of which the United States is a member or is a professional athlete. In these cases, the Re-entry permit can be issued for two years despite extended periods of absence from the U.S.
Further, a conditional resident may apply for and be issued a Re-entry permit, just like any other lawful permanent resident. However, the permit may not be valid beyond the date on which the conditional resident’s status will expire.
Finally, a Re-entry permit cannot be extended. The conditional permanent resident must apply for a new travel document with Form I-131.
Expedited Re-entry Permits
It will typically take at least 90 days for USCIS to process your Form I-131 and mail you the Re-entry permit. So plan early whenever possible.
But sometimes travel is needed on a more urgent basis — a new job must be started within a month or a relative is sick and needs assistance from you immediately. In these cases, USCIS does it’s best to accommodate expedite processing for the Re-entry permit.
To request expedited processing, you will need to provide a cover letter that explains the reason (e.g. humanitarian, employment, or government work) and include evidence that supports the claim.
Effect on Naturalization
Extensive travel outside the United States, with or without a Re-entry permit, can affect a permanent resident’s eligibility for naturalization. There are tremendous benefits to U.S. citizenship. In particular, you’ll never need a Re-entry permit or green card again! If your desire is to become a U.S. citizen, you should understand the continuous residence and physical presence requirements. Absences from the United States can disrupt your continuous residence for the purposes of naturalization. You should avoid any trips abroad of 6 months or longer. In general, the following applies:
- A trip abroad that is less than 6 months generally will not disrupt continuous residence.
- A trip 6-12 will likely disrupt continuous residence.
- trip 12 months or longer will disrupt continuous residence.
- A naturalization candidate that is applying on the basis of five years of permanent residence must be have 30 months of physical presence in the U.S. before submitting Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
A permanent resident of the U.S. (whether conditional or not) must maintain the intention to permanently reside in the U.S.
Immigrating requires you to live and work in the U.S. Any absence of 6 months or longer breaks the continuity of your residence and impacts eligibility for citizenship should you apply for it later. In some cases, even absences of 3 months are suspicious so you need to show you are taking steps to finish your affairs abroad.
If you plan to resume your job outside the U.S. and your kids will be in school outside the U.S., you should apply for re-entry permits after you are admitted to the U.S. on immigrant visas.
If you have any questions about your need for a re-entry permit or the process of applying for such a permit, contact us . Quebec investment consultation and management services LLC (QICMS) can help you with the application and provide you with the guidance you need to protect your right to return to the U.S.For more information on the EB-5 program and its eligibility requirements, please click here
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