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Re-entry Permits: The Basics on Preserving Your Green Card During Long Term Travel

While the vast majority of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents and Conditional Residents (green card holders) reside permanently in the U.S. after obtaining their status, there are instances when an individual may need to spend an extended period of time outside the U.S.   A good rule of thumb to follow is if you plan to be out of the U.S. for longer than 183 days in a year, you should consult an experienced Immigration Attorney regarding the best way to protect your status while you are gone.
One such strategy may be to obtain a Reentry Permit.    By obtaining a reentry permit, a green card holder can establish that they do not wish to abandon their permanent resident status.

Sample Reentry Permit

What is a Reentry Permit?

A Reentry Permit is a travel document issued to lawful permanent residents and conditional residents who must reside outside of the U.S. for more than six months.

Who needs Reentry Permit?

Lawful permanent residents and conditional residents require Reentry Permits to reenter the country after an absence from the U.S. of more than six months.

How do I file for Reentry Permit?

You must file Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos and applicable fees with the USCIS.

What is the purpose of Reentry Permit?

A Reentry Permit preserves the Green Card while the applicant is outside of the U.S.

What is the processing time for a Reentry Permit?

The Reentry Permit processing time is generally between 8 and 16 months. Applications should be filed no less than 60 days before travel.

For how long is a Reentry Permit valid?

  • For lawful permanent residents returning to the U.S., a Re-entry Permit is valid for two years from the date of issuance of the permit
  • For conditional residents returning to the U.S., the Reentry Permit is valid for two years from the date of issuance of the permit or until the date the conditional resident must apply for the removal of conditions, whichever comes first

When should I apply for Reentry Permit?

You must apply for a Reentry Permit before leaving the U.S. Not doing so may cause you to lose your Green Card.

Does a Reentry Permit guarantee U.S. admission?

No. A Reentry Permit does not guarantee admission into the U.S. Foreign nationals with Reentry Permits are still subject to the immigration inspections process at the port of entry.

Can I be denied issuance of a Reentry Permit?
Yes, a Reentry Permit may not be issued if:

  1. You have already been issued such a document and it is still valid, unless the prior document has been returned to the USCIS, or you can demonstrate that it was lost.
  2. A notice was published in the Federal Register that precludes the issuance of such a document for travel to the area where you intend to go.

How can I appeal a denial of Reentry Permit?
If your Reentry Permit application is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to appeal. Generally, you may appeal within 33 days of receiving the denial by submitting Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal to the Administrative Appeals Unit, with the office that made the original decision.