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How to protect your green card status – Must Read for Green Card Holders!

If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR or green card holder) who spends over 183 days abroad, this article is for you!  You should take steps to protect your green card status.

This is the inside of a reentry permit – it looks a lot like a passport

What is a reentry permit?

A reentry permit is a travel document that a LPR shows when they enter the U.S.  It establishes that you did not intend to abandon LPR status, and it allows you to apply for admission to the U.S. after spending an extended period of time abroad.  Reentry permits are normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance.
Do I need one?
A LPR is required to be physically present in the U.S. for at least 6 months of the calendar year.  Sometimes, circumstances like employment, family obligations, etc. require you to remain outside the U.S. for extended periods of time.  In these cases, it is important you file an application for a Reentry Permit – otherwise, upon re-entry into the U.S., CBP may revoke your green card.
Revoke my green card?! Can they really do that?
Yes.  Your U.S. residence may be considered “abandoned” if you spend over 6 months in another country per calendar year.  Your green card becomes technically invalid for reentry into the U.S. if you are absent for 1 year or more.  The reentry permit, however, is the government’s “permission” to let you spend extended time abroad.
In addition to obtaining a reentry permit, there are other steps you should take to ensure that you protect your green card status.  You can find more information here:  Maintaining Permanent Resident Status
When should I file the application?
If you are planning to travel outside of the U.S. for 6 months or longer, you should apply for a reentry permit before you depart the U.S.  You must be physically present in the U.S. when you file the application, and it should be submitted 30-60 days before your intended date of departure.  If you have concerns about this timing, you should contact our office so we can help you strategize a plan.
How do I file the application?
You must file Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos and applicable fees with the USCIS.  Shortly after filing,  USCIS will notify you to appear at a designated Application Support Center (ASC) for a biometrics appointment.  You do not have to be in the U.S. for USCIS to approve your application once your biometrics have been obtained.
You can find a more in-depth look at reentry permits here:  Re-entry Permits: The Basics on Preserving Your Green Card During Long Term Travel
Contact a green card attorney at  Berardi Immigration Law today and we will gladly assist you with this application.