Guide to Reentry Permits

cbp-inspectorIf you are a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR), there are at least three situations where applying for a reentry permit may be beneficial: (a) if you will be abroad for one year or more; (b) if you will be abroad for more than six months for two consecutive years; and (c) if you have been warned by U.S. Customs and Border Inspection (CBP) officer that you are at risk of abandoning your permanent resident status.

What can you with this Guide to Reentry Permits?

learn Learn: The below plain-English guide explains the basics of how to apply and use a reentry permit.
research Research: The below guide includes 70 footnotes with references to legal authorities.
Q&A Ask Questions: You are welcome to ask questions of a general nature in the Comments section below.
video call Consult with an experienced immigration attorney: If you would like our law firm to help you apply for a reentry permit, answer your questions, and provide related advice, see here to schedule an appointment.

Information contained here should not be construed as legal advice. Do not act or rely on this information without seeking legal advice from a qualified lawyer who learns your goals, investigates the specific facts of your case, researches how the law may apply to those facts, and then gives advice taking all that into account.

1. Introduction

1.1 Who Should Apply for a Reentry Permit?


If you are a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR), there are at least three situations where applying for a reentry permit may be beneficial: (a) if you will be abroad for one year or more; (b) if you will be abroad for more than six months for two consecutive years; and (c) if you have been warned by U.S. Customs and Border Inspection (CBP) officer that you are at risk of abandoning your permanent resident status.[1]

C:\Users\abc\Desktop\Salvador Dali's Reentry Permit.jpg

Salvador Dali’s reentry permit. The famous Spanish Catalan surrealist painter retreated to the United States during World War II. Source: National Archives via USA Today.

1.2 If You Will Be Abroad One Year or More

A Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (i.e., green card) is only valid for entry after an absence from the U.S. of less than one year.[2]If you have been abroad for one year or more, the CBP officer at the port of entry won’t let you enter by merely showing the I-551.[3]

In contrast, a reentry permit can be valid for reentry to the U.S. for a period of up to two years.[4] So, if there is a significant chance that you will be abroad for a year or more, we recommend applying for a reentry permit before leaving the U.S.

1.3 If You Will Be Abroad for More than Six Months for Two Years in a Row

To allow you to reenter the U.S. as an LPR, the CBP officer at the port of entry must determine that you are returning from a “temporary” trip abroad.[5] If the trip abroad wasn’t temporary, then you have “abandoned” your LPR status, making you ineligible for readmission.

When is a trip abroad “temporary”? According to the courts, a trip abroad is temporary only if you possess an intention at the time of departure and throughout the entire trip to return to the U.S. as a place of employment or business or as an actual home “within a period relatively short, fixed by some early event.”[6] If the return date “hing[es] on a contingency,” that contingency must have a “reasonable possibility of occurring” within a short period of time.[7] It’s not enough that the intent to be to return “at some indefinite time in the possibly distant future.”[8]And it’s not enough to intend to retain your LPR status.[9]

Since CBP has no direct way to determine intention, a number of factors are used to try to deduce your intention, including:[10]

  • purpose for departing
  • termination date of travel abroad
  • place of employment
  • place of actual home and property ties
  • family ties to the U.S.;
  • payment of U.S. income taxes as a U.S. resident; and
  • the proportion of time you are in the U.S. versus abroad.

Many LPRs believe that by visiting the U.S. every year or every six months they can avoid abandonment of LPR status.[11] But that is pure myth.[12] Such persons’ stay abroad isn’t “temporary” because they lack the intention to return to live in the U.S. within a relatively short period of time.

In other cases, it’s difficult to determine whether a planned stay abroad is temporary. For example, what about going abroad to care for sick relative who may or may not recover within two years? What about going abroad to start a business that may or may not be self-sustaining enough to allow you to return to the U.S. in three years?

In such cases, there is a benefit to applying for a reentry permit. If the permit is issued, there is a legal presumption that the approved trip is “temporary.”[13] So, applying for a reentry permit can reduce the risk that a CBP officer at the airport or other port of entry could determine you have abandoned LPR status by making a non-temporary trip abroad.

Our recommendation: if you will be outside the U.S. for more than 6 months for two consecutive years, there is a significant risk CBP may determine your stay abroad is not temporary, so you should apply for a reentry permit.

1.4 If CBP Has Warned That You Are at Risk of Abandonment

Another situation where you should obviously consider applying for a reentry permit is if a CBP officer has warned you that you are at risk for abandonment. This can happen at the port of entry when you are returning to the U.S. from abroad. The officer may notice that you have been abroad for a significant period of time and advise you that you a non-temporary trip abroad will lead to abandonment of your LPR status. The officer may place a stamp that looks like this in your passport:

ARC Advised Stamp

Figure 1. “Advised”: This means that the LPR holder was advised that non-temporary trips abroad may result in abandonment.

Note: ARC means the individual presented an alien registration card, i.e., a green card.

Out 5 Months copy

Figure 2. “Out 5 months, 29 days.”

ARC advised residency requirement

Figure 3: “Advised Residency Requirements”

1.5 Related Issues Not Covered in This Article

This article covers the requirements and procedures to apply for a reentry permit, as well as the terms and conditions of residence permits. Related issues that are not covered in this article include:

  1. As explained above, a reentry permit is presumptive but not conclusive evidence that LPR status hasn’t been abandoned during a trip abroad. You should collect and make available to the CBP inspector additional evidence of the temporary nature of any extended stay abroad.
  2. An LPR seeking readmission to the U.S. is subject to the grounds of inadmissibility. These grounds prohibit the admission of certain classes, such as persons convicted of specified crimes or likely to become public charges.[14]
  3. Extended stays abroad may impact your eligibility for naturalization.
  4. An LPR who has been absent from the U.S. for one year or more and who has no reentry permit may be eligible to apply at a U.S. Consulate abroad for an SB-1 returning resident visa or may be eligible to apply to CBP for a waiver of the entry document requirement.
  5. If you are an LPR married to a U.S. citizen who is working abroad for any of the following types of entities, you may be eligible for expeditious naturalization under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act without any required period of residence of physical presence in the U.S.
  • the U.S. Government
  • an American institution of research recognized as such by the Attorney General
  • “an American firm or corporation engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce of the United States, or a subsidiary thereof”
  • a public international organization in which the U.S. participates by treaty or statute; or
  • religious denomination or interdenominational mission having a bona fide organization within the U.S.

For more, see our firm’s Guide to Expeditious Naturalization at http://lawandborder.com/expeditious-naturalization-for-spouses-of-u-s-citizens-employed-abroad/.

Our law firm can provide advice on these topics.

2. Eligibility Requirements

USCIS may, as a matter of discretion, issue a reentry permit to a person meeting the following requirements:

  1. You have been lawfully admitted to the U.S. as an LPR or conditional resident.[15]
  2. You have not abandoned that status, as discussed above.
  3. You intend in good faith to make a temporary trip abroad.[16]
  4. You must be physically present in the United States at the time of filing.[17] For this purpose, the United States means the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.[18]
  5. Departing the U.S. after you file has no effect on the application,[19] although as explained below you would need to return to the U.S. for a biometrics appointment if you are between ages 14 and 79.[20]
  6. Issuance would not be contrary to the U.S. national interest.[21]

3. Procedures to Apply for a Reentry Permit

3.1 Where to File

The application is filed by mail with the USCIS lockbox in Phoenix or Dallas, depending on the state where you live.[22] E-filing is not available.[23]

USCIS will then forward the application to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for adjudication.[24]

3.2 What to File

The initial documentation that must be filed with the reentry permit application includes[25]:

  1. Filing Fee: $360 for Form I-131 and $85 for biometrics (for applicants age 14 through 79)
  2. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
  3. A copy of the front and back of Form I-551 (or other evidence of LPR status per the Form I-131 instructions)
  4. A copy of a second official photo identity document clearly showing your photo, name, and date of birth. (Example: passport ID page, prior reentry permit, a valid government-issued driver’s license; passport identity page; or any other official identity document.)

In applicable cases, it may be helpful to file the following additional documents:

  1. Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney, to notify USCIS that our firm represents you.
  2. Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application Acceptance. This is a request that USCIS notify the applicant by email or SMS when the case is accepted for filing.
  3. Any previously issued but unexpired reentry permit or refugee travel document should be returned to USCIS so that it can be voided.[26]
  4. Evidence of any name change[27]
  5. Form I-797C, Receipt Notice, for any pending Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Condition of Residence. (This notice will show the date to which your LPR status has been extended.)
  6. Evidence the travel abroad will be temporary: USCIS adjudicators are instructed to determine whether the applicant intends to travel abroad temporarily based on review of the application and the A-file, considering factors such as “the applicant’s previous absences, the intended absence, and whether the applicant has ties (property, family employment, etc.) in the U.S.”[28] It’s curious, then, that USCIS doesn’t request that the initial filing include related evidence or encourage adjudicators to solicit related documents through a request for evidence. We speculate that USCIS conceives of the I-131 as a mere declaration of the applicant’s intent, whereas later when the applicant seeks admission to the U.S. based on the reentry permit CBP will have an opportunity to review evidence to determine whether the stay abroad was in fact temporary. Usually we don’t file evidence of temporariness with the I-131. Still, there may be cases where it is helpful to submit evidence the travel abroad will be temporary.[29]
  7. If you fall within the grounds of inadmissibility, you may be able to file a waiver application with your reentry permit application.[30]
  8. If you are applying for a reentry permit immediately after entering the U.S., it may be helpful to submit a copy of your passport, including the page stamped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon your entry to the U.S. plus your boarding pass for your flight to the U.S.
  9. If you are under age 14 or over age 79, it can be helpful to submit 2 U.S.-passport style photos. Otherwise, USCIS will require that you attend a biometrics appointment to be photographed.[31]
  10. Documents in support of any request for expedited processing, such as
    1. FedEx label and envelope to forward the biometrics appointment notice to applicant
    2. Statement why expedited processing is sought
    3. Evidence of need for expedited processing.

3.3 Receipt Notice

Within about two weeks of filing the application, USCIS should issue a Form I-797C, Receipt Notice.

3.4 Biometrics Appointment

After the receipt notice, applicants will receive a notice to attend a biometrics appointment. Applicants age 14 to 79 will be fingerprinted, photographed, and provide a signature. Applicants outside that age range will need to attend the appointment to be photographed unless they have provided two clear, printed U.S. passport-style photos with their application.[32]

The biometrics appointment will be scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) with jurisdiction over your U.S. residence. The biometrics appointment cannot be completed abroad.[33]

It normally takes about 4-6 weeks from filing to the biometrics appointment.[34] So we recommend applying for a reentry permit as early as possible before travel.

Failure to appear for a biometrics appointment may result in denial of the reentry permit application, unless the appointment is rescheduled.

3.5 Options to Waiting in the U.S. for the Biometrics Appointment

What if you can’t wait in the U.S. the normal 4-6 weeks from the time of filing until the time of the biometrics appointment? You have other options: request an expedited appointment; walk in to the local ASC or a different one (even Guam, Saipan, or Honolulu); leave the U.S. and come back for your appointment; reschedule the appointment; or ask to be fingerprinted at a USCIS office abroad.

Expedited Appointment

USCIS may expedite a biometrics appointment as a matter of discretion. In this case, it can take 7 to 14 days from filing to the appointment.[35]

To request expedited processing, you should include with your application a written explanation of the reason your travel abroad is urgent.[36] This should be supported by any available evidence of the urgency.

USCIS has stated that an applicant who lives abroad will ordinarily qualify for expedited scheduling, subject to availability of appointment slots at the ASC.[37] USCIS will review your request to determine whether it meets or more of the following criteria:[38]

  • Severe financial loss to company or individual
  • Extreme emergent situation
  • Humanitarian situation
  • Nonprofit status of requesting organization in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States
  • Department of Defense or National Interest Situation (Note: Request must come from official United States Government entity and state that delay will be detrimental to our Government)
  • USCIS error
  • Compelling interest of USCIS

To request an expedited biometrics appointment, notate the outside of the envelope and top of Form I-131 with the word EXPEDITE. Include a pre-paid, self-addressed express mailer, to send you the biometrics appointment notice. Also provide your email address and a fax number.[39]

Additionally, it may be helpful to specify any dates you prefer the appointment or are unavailable for the appointment.

Walk In to the Local ASC or a Different One (Even Guam, Saipan, or Honolulu)

Even if you are unable to expedite your biometrics appointment, it may be possible to walk in to the ASC with jurisdiction over your place of residence at a different time. You’ll need to explain your situation, bring your biometrics appointment notice (if you have one), and at some ASCs you’ll need to provide proof of your departure date and urgent need to depart (such as a letter from your employer).[40]

It may also be possible to go to a different ASC. If you live in Asia, it may be more convenient to attend a biometrics appointment at the ASC in Honolulu (Hawaii), Saipan, or Guam[41] than to travel to the continental U.S.

Allowing biometrics processing without an appointment is a matter within each ASC’s discretion, so ask your lawyer to check whether it’s currently possible.[42]

 

Leave the U.S. and Come Back for Your Appointment

You also have the option of leaving the U.S. after your I-131 has been received and accepted by USCIS, then returning in time for the biometrics appointment.

 

Reschedule Your Biometrics Appointment

If the appointment time is inconvenient, you can request that it be rescheduled. Follow the instructions on the appointment notice. The request can be made by phone to the USCIS National Customer Service Center.[43] In the alternative, the request can be made by mail to the address shown on the appointment notice. If by mail, attach the original appointment notice and keep a copy for your records.[44] Also attach a reasonable excuse for failure to appear for the initially scheduled appointment.[45] You can specify your preferred date for the rescheduled appointment, although USCIS may or may not be able to honor your request. Note that USCIS’ scheduling system only allows setting appointments no more than 30 days out.[46] In addition, your request can be for an appointment at a different ASC if you file a change of address.[47]

Note that the rescheduling request must be made prior to the originally scheduled appointment date. Late requests will not be honored. Instead, the application will be considered abandoned and denied.[48] Also, an application will be considered abandoned in any case where the biometrics appointment hasn’t taken place within 120 days of filing the I-131.[49] A motion to reopen may be entertained by USCIS on a case-by-case basis.[50]

Ask to Be Fingerprinted at a USCIS Office Abroad

Beginning in December 2015, USCIS has permitted limited biometrics appointments at their international offices. For a list of such offices, see USCIS, International Immigration Offices, http://www.uscis.gov/international (June 6, 2015).

The stated policy[51] is:

In rare circumstances, FODs [field office directors] may use their discretion to collect biometrics that were initially scheduled to be taken in the United States. When deciding whether to collect biometrics at an international field office, FODs will take into account resource constraints, and also consider appropriate supporting evidence the applicant provides as well as the following factors:

  • An appointment notice showing that biometrics collection was scheduled at a domestic USCIS office;
  • Evidence of extenuating circumstances that would require the individual to depart the United States before having his or her biometrics collected as indicated in the appointment notice. For example, these circumstances might include, but are not limited to, the need to assist a critically ill family member, an unexpected immediate job transfer, or other urgent need; and
  • Evidence that the applicant requested an expedited or rescheduled appointment at an ASC before leaving the United States and, if not, an explanation of the reasons for failing to request an expedited or rescheduled appointment.

For Those Residing Abroad:

Evidence of the compelling circumstances or hardship that would prevent the applicant or petitioner from traveling back to the United States for an ASC appointment. Generally, the expense of traveling back to the United States would not, in itself, be considered a hardship. Because of the small number of staff in our international offices, you may experience a delay in appointment availability for biometrics collection.

According to USCIS, this policy is still the subject of “internal discussion” at USCIS so is subject to change.[52]

3.6 Interview

USCIS may require that you appear for an interview on your application for a reentry permit,[53] but in practice this is rare.

3.7 Processing Times

Currently, USCIS Nebraska Service Center is taking about 3 months to adjudicate a reentry permit application.[54]

3.8 Adjudication and Delivery

If the application is approved, the reentry permit will be mailed to you at the address requested in Form I-131. You can choose on the form delivery to the applicant’s U.S. address, the attorney’s address, or to a U.S. Consulate or DHS office abroad.[55] Reentry permits may not be delivered to a foreign address.

If the application is denied, USCIS will explain why and provide an opportunity to appeal.[56] If the denial is on the basis that the applicant has abandoned LPR status, USCIS may refer the case to investigations to consider instituting removal (i.e., deportation) proceedings or post a lookout notice that can be seen by CBP at ports of entry.[57]

The reentry permit comes in the form of a passport-style booklet that contains blank pages for CBP to place admission stamps. Some countries will allow use of the reentry permit in lieu of a passport, so foreign visas and admission stamps can also be placed on these blank pages.

Key Data on the Reentry Permit’s ID Page

Reentry Permit--2011-03-03

Key data to look for on the ID page of a reentry permit includes:

  • Personal Data: Check to make sure that all of your personal data is correct. This includes your name, date of birth, passport number, gender, etc.
  • Category: This should read “PR,” assuming you are a permanent resident.
  • Personal #: This should be the same A# as on your green card.
  • Issuance and Expiration Dates: Check the issuance and expiration dates to be sure they are as expected.
  • Entries: This should read “M” for multiple.
  • Restrictions: There should be none.

4. Terms and Conditions of the Reentry Permit

4.1 Validity

A reentry permit is generally valid for a maximum period of two years,[58] except:

  • A permit issued to a conditional resident will not be valid beyond the date that conditional resident status expires, as shown on the I-551 or the receipt notice issued upon filing either the Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence or the Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status.[59]
  • If you have been outside the U.S. for more than 4 of the last 5 years since becoming an LPR, the reentry permit will be limited to 1 year (except that the permit will be valid for 2 years in the case of an LPR who is a professional athlete, traveling on U.S. government orders, or employed by a public international organization).[60]
  • A reentry permit is voided if you are removed (i.e., deported or excluded) from the U.S.[61]

The period of validity commences on the date of issuance and not on the date the application for the permit was filed.[62] During the period of validity, such permit can be used for multiple reentries into the US.[63]

A reentry permit cannot be extended,[64] although a subsequent application can be filed.[65]

4.2 Seeking Admission to the U.S. with a Reentry Permit

To seek readmission to the U.S. at an international airport or other port of entry, present your reentry permit to the inspector. Carry your green card and passport too. The reentry permit will serve as a valid entry document, and it is presumptive—but not conclusive—evidence that you have not abandoned LPR status.

Inspection could be brief, or the officer could take you to a separate office for detailed questioning, perhaps under oath. The officer may interview you to determine issues such as:

  • Whether you fall within any of the grounds of inadmissibility.
  • Whether your reentry permit application contained any material false misrepresentation or concealment, which would void the permit.[66]
  • Whether your reentry permit was issued in error.[67]
  • Whether there is strong evidence overcoming the presumption that you haven’t abandoned LPR status.[68]

As mentioned above, the officer may ask for additional documentation that your trip abroad was temporary.[69] You should prepare such evidence before your trip and pack it in your carry-on luggage. This should include evidence that you were actually abroad for the reasons stated in your Form I-131. For example, if you are abroad for temporary work, it may be appropriate to present the temporary work contract and a recent paycheck stub. This should also include evidence that you have retained ties to the U.S. consistent with an intention to return to the U.S. as your main residence, such as evidence of an actual home and property ties in the U.S., family ties in the U.S., and payment of U.S. income taxes.

If the officer is satisfied, you will be admitted and the officer should stamp the reentry permit to show this.[70]

But if the officer is not satisfied that your trip abroad has been merely temporary, the officer has several options:

  • Refer you to deferred inspection to further investigate the matter.
  • Allow you to withdraw your application for admission and return abroad.
  • Allow you to relinquish your LPR status and be admitted as a nonimmigrant.
  • Issue a notice to appear for a removal (i.e., deportation or exclusion) hearing in Immigration Court.

Our law firm is available to represent clients in preparing to seek readmission to the U.S. with the reentry permit when there is any doubt regarding eligibility.

  1. In addition, if you are “stateless” or unable to obtain a passport from the country of your nationality, you may apply for a reentry permit for use as a travel document. Or if you are visiting a certain country and that country does not honor the passport from your country of nationality, you may apply for a reentry permit for use as a travel document. USCIS, Questions and Answers: Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents (June 30, 2009).
  2. 8 C.F.R. § 211.1(a)(2). This one-year limit does not apply to a civilian or military employee of the U.S. Government who was abroad on official orders, or to their accompanying spouses or children. 8 C.F.R. § 211.1(a)(6).
  3. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation of being abroad for over one year with no reentry permit, you may be able to apply to a U.S. Consulate for a SB-1 returning resident visa or to CBP for a waiver of the entry document requirement. Our firm can provide further advice on these issues.
  4. 8 C.F.R. § 223.2.
  5. INA § 211(b) allows an LPR to seek readmission to the U.S. without an immigrant visa if the LPR meets the definition of a returning resident found in INA § 101(a)(27)(A) (“an immigrant, lawfully admitted for permanent residence, who is returning from a temporary visit abroad.”).
  6. Matter of Kane, 15 I.& N. Dec. 258, 263 (BIA 1975).
  7. Chavez-Ramirez v. INS, 792 F.2d 932, 936 (9th Cir. 1986)
  8. Angeles, v. District Director, INS, 729 F. Supp. 479, 484 (D. Md. 1990).
  9. Alvarez v. District Director, 539 F.2d 1220, 1225 (9th Cir. 1976).
  10. Matter of Kane, 15 I.& N. Dec. 258 (BIA 1975).
  11. See, e.g., Matter of Huang, 19 I&N 749 (BIA 1988).
  12. USCIS helps to perpetuate such myths by making misleading statements such as the following: “If you do not obtain a Reentry Permit and remain outside the United States for one year or more, we may determine that you have abandoned your permanent or conditional resident status.” Form I-131 Instructions at 2 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010).
  13. INA § 223(e) (A reentry permit “show[s] that the alien to whom it was issued is returning from a temporary visit abroad.”); 8 C.F.R. § 223.3(d) (An LPR with a valid reentry permit “shall not be deemed to have abandoned status based solely on the duration of an absence or absences while the permit is valid.”); Moin v. Ashcroft,335 F.3d 415 (5th Cir. 2003) (LPR status abandoned despite valid reentry permit); Iodice v. Wixon, 56 F.2d 824 (2d Cir. 1932) (reentry permit has no effect except to show that the holder is returning from a temporary visit abroad); Zachrias v. McGrath, 105 F. Supp. 421 (D. D.C. 1952) (Reentry permit is “prima facie evidence” LPR status not abandoned.).
  14. But see INA § 101(a)(13)(C) (certain LPRs absent from the U.S. for under 180 days are not subject to the grounds of inadmissibility).
  15. INA § 223(a); 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(b).
  16. INA § 223(a), (b).
  17. 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(b)(1) (applicant “must file … while in the United States”). Further, “an application or petition is not considered properly filed until accepted by USCIS.” Form I-131 instructions at p.9 (rev. Nov. 5, 2011). See INA § 223 (applicant must “propose” and “intend” to depart the U.S.)
  18. INA § 101(a)(38).
  19. 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(d).
  20. The biometrics requirement is stated in the Form I-131 at 5 (Nov. 5, 2011). The instructions state that if you “depart[ ] the United States before the biometrics are collected, the application may be denied.” Id. at 2. This instruction is misleading because it directly conflicts with the regulations. In the authors’ experience, departing the U.S. before the biometrics appointment will not result in denial of the application, so long as you return to attend the appointment. But cf. Jill A. Apa, Implementation of Biometrics Collection for I-131 Refugee Travel Document and Reentry Permit Applications (2008 Lexis Emerging Issues 2306) (“[U]ntil a challenge [to the USCIS Instructions] proves successful, practitioners must continue to advise clients” that departing the U.S. before the biometrics appointment may result in denial of the reentry permit application.)
  21. INA § 223(b). Pursuant to that statutory authority, DHS may publish in the Federal Register a notice precluding the issuance of reentry permits for travel to certain areas. Form I-131 Instructions at 2 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010); AFM 52.3(b)(1). No such notice is currently issued.
  22. Form I-131 Instructions at 8 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010).
  23. USCIS, Questions and Answers: Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents (June 30, 2009).
  24. AFM 3.5(e).
  25. 8 C.F.R. § 223.1(a); Form I-131 Instructions at 4 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010).
  26. INA § 223(d) (expired permit should be returned to USCIS); 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(c)(1) (I-131 will be denied if the prior permit is still valid, unless it was returned to USCIS or it is demonstrated that it was lost); I-131 Instructions at 2 (same); AFM 52.3(b)(2) (If a previously issued reentry permit was not surrendered to the Service or USCIS by the applicant, you should request the alien return it or explain in details the reason he or she cannot. You should resolve this issue before delivering the new permit. Retain the surrendered permit in the A-file.”); USCIS Form M-608, I am a Permanent Resident. How Do I … Get a Reentry Permit (Aug. 2008) (If you have a valid reentry permit in your possession, you will need to send it in when you apply for a new one. You need not send in an expired reentry permit).
  27. AFM 52.3(a)(1)(B)
  28. AFM 52.3(b)(3).
  29. For example, if the applicant believes the A-file may contain derogatory evidence, it may be helpful to submit rebuttal evidence.
  30. AFM 52.3(b)(6).
  31. NSC Liaison Practice Pointer on Reentry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents, Oct. 9, 2012, AILA Inofnet Doc. No. 12100960; NSC Stakeholder Call (Student and School Issues Product Line, Sept. 13, 2012, AILA Infonet Doc. No. 12092748.
  32. NSC Liaison Practice Pointer on Reentry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents, Oct. 9, 2012, AILA Inofnet Doc. No. 12100960; NSC Stakeholder Call (Student and School Issues Product Line, Sept. 13, 2012, AILA Infonet Doc. No. 12092748.
  33. USCIS, Questions and Answers: Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents (June 30, 2009). But see Q&A from AILA-USCIS Meeting, at 21 Oct. 5, 2011, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 11100570 (DHS offices in Rome and Athens will take biometrics in “compelling circumstances.”). It’s possible that USCIS rethink this issue. The agency has removed from its regulations references to specific offices where biometrics appointments must take place “to allow USCIS greater flexibility for handling such matters.” 76 Fed. Reg. 53764, 53771 (Aug. 29, 2011).
  34. According to USCIS, “in most cases you will receive your appointment notice within 30 days of submitting your application. We will send your appointment notice approximately 14 days ahead of your scheduled appointment.” https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard/CaseStatus/BucketDescriptions.do#1.
  35. The 7 to 14 days delay is, in large part, because of mailing time—mailing the application from the Lockbox to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center, where the decision is made whether or not to expedite the biometrics appointment, and mailing the biometrics appointment notice from the Service Center to the applicant. See USCIS, Executive Summary: Listening Session with the Office of Intake and Document Production, Oct. 12, 2010.
  36. USCIS, Questions and Answers: Re-entry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents (June 30, 2009).
  37. AILA NSC Liaison Committee Practice Tip on Biometrics Appointment Scheduling for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08122960 (Dec. 29, 2008).
  38. USCIS, Expedite Criteria (Dec. 14, 2009), http://bit.ly/4CMy2F.
  39. Form I-131 Instructions at 6 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010);
  40. AILA NSC Liaison Committee Practice Tip on Biometrics Appointment Scheduling for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08122960 (Dec. 29, 2008).
  41. AILA Bangkok District Chapter-USCIS Agana (Guam) Field Office Liaison Agenda, Sept. 23, 2013.
  42. AILA Liaison Practice Pointer: I-130s, I-601s,& Overseas Biometrics (Oct. 17, 2012), AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 12101590 . This is true despite the standard note on the Form I-131 receipt notice that “You must wait to receive your biometrics appointment notice before going to the ASC for biometrics processing.”
  43. AILA, Practice Pointer: Instructions for Rescheduling ASC Appointments (Apr. 25, 2013), AILA Infonet Doc. No. 13042543.
  44. Id.
  45. Revision of NSC Biometrics Reschedule Request Procedures for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09061771 (June 17, 2009).
  46. Revision of NSC Biometrics Reschedule Request Procedures for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09061771 (June 17, 2009).
  47. USCIS National Stakeholder Meeting, June 24, 2008.
  48. AILA NSC Liaison Committee Practice Tip on Biometrics Appointment Scheduling for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 08122960 (Dec. 29, 2008).
  49. Revision of NSC Biometrics Reschedule Request Procedures for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09061771 (June 17, 2009).
  50. Revision of NSC Biometrics Reschedule Request Procedures for Reentry Permit Applications, AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09061771 (June 17, 2009).
  51. USCIS, China—USCIS Beijing Field Office, https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-offices/china-uscis-beijing-field-office (Jan. 26, 2016).
  52. AILA/London USCIS Field Office Meeting Agenda (Dec. 2, 2015), AILA Doc. No. 16022205.
  53. Form I-131 Instructions at 4 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010).
  54. USCIS Processing Time Information, https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do (last visited Aug. 10, 2010).
  55. AFM 42.3(a)(1)(C).
  56. 8 C.F.R. § 223.1.
  57. AFM 52.3(c)(2).
  58. INA § 223(b). Interestingly, the permit is regarded as unexpired if you embark or enplane before its expiration, provided that the vessel arrives in the U.S. on a continuous voyage, not counting scheduled stops or emergency stops or layovers for connecting flights. 8 C.F.R. § 211.3.
  59. 8 C.F.R. § 223.3(a) (“[A] reentry permit issued to a conditional permanent resident shall be valid for 2 years from the date of issuance, or to the date the conditional permanent resident must apply for removal of the conditions on his or her status, whichever comes first.”). Further, “USCIS confirms that a re-entry permit will be issued to an individual who has already applied to remove the condition on his or her status (and has been issued a receipt as a result of the I-751 filing that extends the validity of the I-551 card for a period of one year) with a validity date that includes the automatic one year extension of the expiration date of the underlying CR alien registration card for the period the applicant is entitled up to the statutory limit of 2 years of a re-entry permit.” Q&A from AILA-USCIS Service Center Operations Directorate (SCOPS) Call (Aug, 12, 2009), AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09082077.
  60. Form I-131 Instructions at 2 (rev. Feb. 12, 2010).
  61. 8 C.F.R. § 223.3(b).
  62. 8 C.F.R. § 223.2.
  63. 8 U.S.C. §1203(c).
  64. 8 C.F.R. § 223.3(c).
  65. The prior INS practice of attaching additional pages to a reentry permit if there was no more space for the affixation of foreign visas has been discontinued. AFM 52.4 n.2.
  66. 8 C.F.R. § 223.3(b); see INA § 223(b) (application must be made in “good faith”). Forgery, counterfeiting, impersonation, or falsification in connection with a reentry permit is a crime, punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. § 1546.
  67. Matter of M, 4 I.& N. Dec. 189 (BIA 1950) (reentry permit invalid where issued in error in that holder wasn’t LPR).
  68. It appears to be an open question as to what effect the reentry permit has if it explains one reason for a temporary trip abroad but subsequently your plans change and you stay abroad for a different reason. Presumably the presumption that the trip was temporary no longer applies, meaning that the safest plan would be to return to the U.S. and apply for a new permit.
  69. IFM 13.1.
  70. IFM 13.1.

83 Replies to “Guide to Reentry Permits”

  1. I am green card holder and canadian citizen. i am in canada working full time. I have not gone back to USA for more than two years. I have house and other assests in canada. I am close to retirement, if i quit job now i will lose pension and also at this age it will be very hard for me to get this kind of good job in USA as the economy is low. Eventually I want to go back and live in USA. I am going to USA to apply for reentry permit. Would you advise me as to what i should write in Part 4 , purpose of trip.

  2. Sam,

    You mention a key fact: you haven’t been to the U.S. for more than two years. To apply for a reentry permit, you’ll need to be physically present in the U.S. As a lawful permanent resident (LPR) returning to the U.S., you’ll need to present a valid entry document. A Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (green card), is acceptable, but only if you are “seeking readmission after a temporary absence of less than 1 year.” See 8 C.F.R. § 211.1(a).

    So to be readmitted to the U.S., you may need to consider applying for an SB-1 returning resident visa, which is an alternative entry document, or applying for a waiver of the document requirement.

    To be eligible for an SB-1 visa, you must meet the following requirements:

    1. You were an LPR at the time of departure from the U.S. (evidence may include your green card, any reentry permit, passports used since immigrating, list of dates of travel outside U.S., and tickets for most recent departure from the U.S.).

    2. You departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention.

    3. You are returning to the U.S. from a “temporary” visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.

    In contrast, to apply for a waiver of the documentary requirement you would file Form I-193, Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa, with the prescribed fee. The waiver can be granted if (a) you are returning to an “unrelinquished lawful permanent residence” in the United States, i.e., your stay abroad has been “temporary”; (b) good cause exists for failure to present the valid entry document; and (c) you merit a favorable exercise of discretion.

    A key issue for an SB-1, I-193, or reentry permit application is proving that your absence from the U.S. has been “temporary.”

    The most concise definition of temporary comes from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit:

    we hold that a permanent resident returns from a “temporary visit abroad” only when (a) the permanent resident’s visit is for “a period relatively short, fixed by some early event,” or (b) the permanent resident’s visit will terminate upon the occurrence of an event having a reasonable possibility of occurring within a relatively short period of time. If as in (b), the length of the visit is contingent upon the occurrence of an event and is not fixed in time and if the event does not occur within a relatively short period of time, the visit will be considered a “temporary visit abroad” only if the alien has a continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to the United States during the entirety of his visit.

    Notice that maintaining LPR status during a prolonged absence abroad requires intention to return to the U.S. upon the occurrence of a specified event, but abandoning LPR status can done unintentionally. In particular, a person abroad for a prolonged period with the plan to “let’s see what the future holds” has abandoned LPR status. Nor is it sufficient to intend to return “at some indefinite time in the possibly distant future.”

    We have handled cases where we successfully argued that persons were “temporarily” outside the U.S. for several years of work in order to qualify for a pension, at which time they intend to return to the U.S. Proving temporariness is very fact intensive, so it will turn on the details of your intent and the availability of evidence of that intent.

    This is a situation where I recommend you seek the advice of counsel.

  3. I am a LPR who has been out of US for three years. We moved to China after my husband lost his job in US and subsequently found a job in China. I obtained the re-entry permit, but it will expire this coming May 15. I have two children (both are US citizens) who are attending schools in China, and we plan to move back to US in two years when my husband’s work situation is mature enough to provide such opportunity. I take children back to US every summer, but for this summer, my re-entry permit will be expired by then. It will be very hard for me to travel to US for extended period of time and leave two young children untended, so I’m wondering if I can –

    1. Go to Guam to apply a new re-entry permit, and go again for the bio-metrics appointment?
    2. When applying the new re-entry permit, I will need to submit the existing permit, so when I go for the bio-metrics appointment , will there be any issue?

    Your comments are greatly appreciated,

    Elaine

  4. Hi,

    With a reentry permit can you come and go into the US for the 2 years that the form is valid? Or is it that once you get it you need to be out for the two years?

    My fiance is American. I’m Canadian with a Green Card. He is working in Asia and Mexico city. I want to join him and will be applying for a reentry permit.

    I will be working remotely but may need to come back to the US to see clients for a few days a few times over the next two years. Is this possible?

    Also, what should I write as the reason for applying? Would something like this be approved?

    Thanks.

    1. Mona,

      Good question. The very purpose of a reentry permit is to serve as a U.S. entry document during the term of its validity (usually 2 years). After it expires, it can no longer be used.

      As to how to draft the form, my only problem with the answer you suggest (“My fiance is American. He is working in Asia and Mexico city. I want to join him.”) is that only persons who intend “temporary” absences from the U.S. may be granted reentry permits. You don’t suggest how your fiance’s employment abroad is temporary and, hence, how your stay abroad will be temporary.

      By the way, if you marry and your husband will be working abroad for a U.S. company, you may qualify for expeditious naturalization.

  5. I am emailing in behalf of my parents. They are both green card holders but they were out of US for more than a year. My father went back to Philippines more than 5 years ago to take care of his mom who was physically ill. My mom then went back too last year to help out my dad. After suffering from sickness, My grandmother passed away last month. My parents are both thinking to apply for a re-entry permit. Their green card are not yet expired. Can you advise me if they can still apply for the re-entry permit and if they will be approved? I really hope for your response regarding my parent’s situation. Thank you.

    1. Lynn: One requirement to file a reentry permit is that the applicant must be physically present in the U.S. I’m concerned that your parents may not qualify to be readmitted the U.S. with their permanent resident cards because (a) the cards are only valid as entry documents if the holder has been abroad for under 1 year, and (b) the underlying permanent resident status can be lost if the holder has stayed abroad on a non-temporary basis. For more, see here for more. An immigration attorney may be able to help come up with a viable strategy.

  6. Hi ,

    I’m a green card holder, and I’ve got a reentry permit valid until March 2015. Will it be a problem if I travel back to usa by March 2014? Will they question me? I don’t have any assets, except bank accounts, in the USA. Please advise.

    1. Sarah:

      CBP has the right to interrogate (ahem, “interview”) any foreign national seeking admission to the U.S. CBP’s goal is to determine whether the person should be admitted under the classification sought.

      As the Guide explains, a reentry permit (RP) is presumptive evidence that you haven’t abandoned LPR status, but it’s not conclusive.

      A common goal of the questioning is to determine whether you were actually abroad for the purpose stated in the RP. If not, the presumption you’ve maintained LPR status is lost.

      Beyond your purpose for being abroad, USCIS looks at the strength of your ties to the U.S. and abroad. The weaker the U.S. ties, the more likely you’ve abandoned LPR status. This analysis looks at the totality of the facts, so your lack of U.S. assets other than bank accounts isn’t determinative. For a fuller discussion of the types of U.S. ties CBP looks for, please see “Green Card Holders Who Stay Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment.” http://lawandborder.com/risk-abandoning-green-card-abroad-6-months/

    1. Saba,

      As described in Part 4.1 of the Guide to Reentry Permits, if you have been outside the U.S. for more than 4 of the last 5 years since becoming an LPR, the reentry permit will be limited to 1 year (except that the permit will be valid for 2 years in the case of an LPR who is a professional athlete, traveling on U.S. government orders, or employed by a public international organization).

      Also note that as you spend a more lengthy period abroad, the USCIS (in adjudicating a reentry permit application) and CBP (in determining whether to readmit you to the U.S.) may look more carefully at whether your stay abroad is really “temporary” within the legal definition.

  7. Hi there,
    I’ve lived in the US since 10 years with a greencard. All good and no problems. I am now planning on moving back to Germany and would like to put the greencard on hold for 2 years because I may come back. Now I have some questions:

    1. How long does it take to file, I am still in the US the next 6 weeks.
    2. During this 2 years, can I still come to the US for visiting?
    3. How do I make sure that I will keep my greencard until I decide that I eventually not coming back for good?

    Thanks.

  8. Chris,

    There’s no way to put a green card “on hold.” You either remain a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or abandon that status. Applying for a reentry permit is the closest thing to what you seek because a reentry permit allows the holder to stay abroad for an extended period (up to 2 years) while retaining a presumption that LPR status hasn’t been abandoned.

    The main issue I see is that your current intent to perhaps eventually return. Technically, the moment you leave the U.S. with such intent you’ve abandoned LPR status. To maintain LPR status, you must depart the U.S. only “temporarily.” And the caselaw clarifies that a prolonged absence from the U.S. is only “temporary” if at the time you depart and throughout your stay abroad you maintain an intention to return to the U.S. as your residence. It’s not enough that your intent is to perhaps eventually return. This topic is discussed in more detail in this article: Green Card Holders Who Stay Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment.

  9. Hello Mr. Chodorow,
    I’m a green card holder since 2007 and I’ve been out of the US for 7 months. I’m studying abroad in Italy since September for a period of 2 years, so I need to stay here for at least the next one year and a half.
    It’s difficult for me to travel to the US for financial issues, so I think the best choice is to apply for a reentry permit. However as I said, while I’m staying here it’s not easy for me to afford a trip to the US. Is there any chance to apply for a reentry permit without being in the US? I mean, is it possible to do everything required as fingerprinting in a US consulate here?

    Thank you for your help.

  10. Hi! I’m a green card holder. I applied for a reentry permit on March 28, 2014. How long will I wait for a fingerprint appointment. i live in Maui, Hawaii. I plan to go back to the Philippines this april 2014 to continue my studies.

    1. It normally takes about 4-6 weeks from filing to the biometrics appointment. If you can’t wait, see Part 3.5 of the Guide for information about expediting the appointment, walking in to the Application Support Center, and rescheduling.

  11. Hi,
    My brother is an LPR and was able to obtain his 1st reentry permit in California because he decided to have his college degree in Manila. He went back to Cali after graduation but was not able to land a good job after a year of staying there. So he decided to get his 2nd reentry permit (still in Cali) and get some more education in Manila. During his stay in Manila, he was offered a job by Accenture Manila. Before his 2nd reentry expired, he visited me here in Guam and then went back to Manila for his job since his manager offered to send him to Accenture Atlanta as an off-shore rep of Accenture Manila. The only problem is, that will still be in January 2015. So he is planning to get his third re-entry permit here in Guam just to be sure that his LPR status won’t be forfeited.
    My question is: Is he allowed to APPLY for the reentry permit and get the biometrics done here in Guam even if his US residence for the past years is in California? Thank you so much!

    1. Rhia,

      To file the reentry permit, the requirement is that the applicant must be in the U.S., not in his or her particular state of residence. So it’s fine to file when in Guam. See Part 2 of the Guide.

      The application form asks the applicant to provide his or her “physical address.” The biometrics appointment will be scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) with jurisdiction over that address. It’s possible to list there a temporary address in the jurisdiction where you want the appointment to be, rather than your U.S. residence address. However, there is some value for a permanent resident in keeping a consistent U.S. residence address in the U.S. It’s one piece of evidence that LPR status hasn’t been abandoned. So we often recommend that clients list their U.S. residence address in the application and walk in to a different ASC for the biometrics appointment, including in Guam, if need be. See Part 3.5 of the Guide.

  12. Hi,

    If I get a reentry permit but, when I return to the U.S., the Customs officer believes I have abandoned my LPR status, what will happen to me?

  13. Hi,

    I decided to come and get my master’s degree in Europe so I got a reentry permit last October. It’s valid until October 2015. However, this summer I want to go and visit my family to the US and then come back to Europe to continue my studies. Will this be a problem?

    1. A reentry permit is issued to facilitate the admission to the U.S. of a lawful permanent resident who has been abroad for a temporary period. So, no, having a reentry permit doesn’t force you to stay outside the U.S.

  14. Dear Gary

    I have a question regarding my brother who is a LPR and now he is inside U.S. He wants to travel to turkey to finish his med school. it usually takes 18-20 months to finish those courses . I read travel.state.gov guide for immigrants and it clearly indicates that LPR students who remain outside the U.S to continue their education can easily get admission regardless of their prolong absence unless they have ties inside their home countries.
    As you said the reentry permit is only one piece of evidence regarding temporary visit abroad, do you still suggest my brother to get this document despite what we read at travel.state.gov

    1. If an LPR will be outside the U.S. for 12 months or more straight, the I-551 (green card) is not valid for reentry and so the reentry permit is necessary as an entry document. Besides that, it’s one piece of evidence to prove the temporariness of his stay abroad–meaning that I can’t comment on how important this one piece of evidence is without knowing all other relevant facts related to his ties in the U.S. and abroad.

  15. Dear Gary:

    My mother, 78 years old, who is a green card holder, has spent 7 months abroad in 2011 and 2012 and 5 months in 2013 and has been stopped at entry for 45 min and 2.3 hours the last two times. The last time, after a two-month absence, was last week when she was told to get a reentry permit. She is going on a trip to Ethiopia with us for 3 weeks this coming Wednesday (one week after entering the US) so there is no time to get a re-entry permit.
    What are the potential consequences?
    Can she be detained?
    Can the officer confiscate her green card?
    What are her options?
    Can she apply for a reentry permit before leaving so that the process starts or will this jeopardize her admission to the US in 3 weeks?

    Thanks

  16. Hello, I have been reading all these green card posts, and I am still confused about some things. I have been an LPR in America for about 10 years now due to my mother winning the green card in Lithuania and taking me with. I have now reached an age where I can think for myself and have decided that I would like to go back and live in Lithuania, find a job, start my own family and that sort of thing. My question is; if I wanted to come back after let’s say 1 year and 6 months, what would be the chances of that succeeding and what could I do to increase those chances? Would a re-entry permit apply to these situations?

    1. Mykolas:

      Strictly speaking, if you intend to move to Lithuania on a non-temporary basis, you abandon your LPR status at the time you depart the U.S. That’s because a green card holder retains LPR status only if he or hse intends to depart the U.S. on a temporary basis. I recommend you speak with an immigration lawyer.

  17. Hello,

    I am moving to Beijing to work for a year. I am 23 and have been a LPR since I was 2 years old.
    Over the past 5 years I have not spent more than a few weeks outside of the US.

    Guilty. I did not know about the re-entry permit until now and I am leaving for China in just under 3 weeks.

    Do you think I would have better luck to

    (a) apply and request to expedite the process, and hope the process is completed in 3 weeks

    OR

    (b) go to China, have a family member in the U.S. send out my application for me in a couple months time, and then come back to the U.S. for a very short trip just to attend my biometrics appointment?

    1. Angie,

      Option (a) may be possible. Even if USCIS doesn’t expedite the biometrics appointment, you should be able to accomplish it on a walk-in basis. Option (b) is not a good idea: the law requires that you be physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing an application for a reentry permit. There may be other options not requiring the filing of an application for a reentry permit….

      1. Hi Gary,

        Good morning!

        Can you kindly explain why an applicant needs to be physically present in the US at the time of filing an application for Form I-131 when the form is send through postal mail? I understand the biometrics requirement need to be done in US but why even for filing of the form?

        Thank you.

        1. Hi Les,

          If your question is, “what legal authority requires physical presence in the U.S. at the time of a reentry permit application?”, the answer is 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(b)(1) (applicant “must file … while in the United States”). See INA § 223 (applicant must “propose” and “intend” to depart the U.S. for a temporary period)

          If your question is, “what’s the public policy reason behind that requirement?”, perhaps Congress thought that it would eliminate the risk of applicants who apply after departing the U.S. falsely testifying that–at the moment they departed–they intended to be gone only temporarily. I haven’t looked at the statutory and regulatory history, so this is just a guess.

  18. Hi,
    We are green card holders, myself, husband and 6years old. We are planing to let stay our child for 1 year with grand parents and study at Manila. While we both will be here in US.
    I would like to know what is the procedure for the child to re-enter US after 1 year.
    Thank you.

  19. Hi,

    I have conditional LPR status in the US by marriage. I am currently working on an online degree from Canada (my home country) because the tuition is much more affordable; however, I need to return to Canada for one year to finish my degree. I plan to get a reentry permit, and the evidence that my marriage is real and my stay is temporary are both very strong. However, the time to apply to remove the conditions on my LPR status is right in the middle of my planned year of study in Canada. Is it possible to remove LPR conditions while temporarily out of the US? I plan to visit the US frequently during my temporary stay abroad to visit my in-laws (if that makes any difference).

    Thanks,
    Matthew

    1. Matthew,

      Your status as a conditional resident (CR) will impact the period of validity of your reentry permit. See the section of the Reentry Permit Guide related to “Validity.”

      As to your eligibility to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, while you are temporarily living abroad, see the related section of our I-751 Guide.

  20. Gary,

    I have a valid Green Card but I have been outside the US for more than two years. My Re Entry Permit expired in January 2014 and the last time I was in the US was June 2013. I am planning to go back to the US for good this coming November. What do you suggest in order not to have problems entering the US? Thanks very much.

    1. You have no valid U.S. entry document if your reentry permit is expired and you have been out of the U.S. for more than 1 year straight, rendering your green card invalid as an entry document. I suggest consulting with an immigration lawyer regarding your options. Common options include obtaining an SB-1 visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or asking for a waiver of the documentary requirement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry. For more, see Green Card Holders Who Stay Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment.

  21. Assuming I get a 2-year reentry permit, can I use that permit to travel back and forth multiple times within the 2 year period? In other words, my concern is whether the permit is good only for one entry back into US. I plan to stay outside US temporarily for one and half years. But I may have to come back once or twice in between.

  22. Gary,
    I have a green card. I wish to take a 6-12 month (maybe longer) break to travel abroad (South America and SE Asia). I do not plan on working while away. I will be leaving behind a car, possessions in storage, and will pay my taxes as usual. I intend to find a job on my return. Should I apply for a reentry permit? Regardless, would it help if I returned to the United States for a brief period within the first 6 months?

    Regards

    1. If you are a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR), there are at least three situations where applying for a reentry permit may be beneficial: (a) if you will be abroad for one year or more; (b) if you will be abroad for more than six months for two consecutive years; and (c) if you have been warned by U.S. Customs and Border Inspection (CBP) officer that you are at risk of abandoning your permanent resident status.

      A Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (i.e., green card) is only valid for entry after an absence from the U.S. of less than one year. If you have been abroad for one year or more, the CBP officer at the port of entry won’t let you enter by merely showing the I-551. In contrast, a reentry permit can be valid for reentry to the U.S. for a period of up to two years. So, if there is a significant chance that you will be abroad for a year or more, we recommend applying for a reentry permit before leaving the U.S.

      As to whether it helps to enter the U.S. within 6 months of departure, see Green Card Holders Who Stay Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment.

  23. I applied for my second re-entry permit application recently.
    USCIS received the application Oct 3, 2014 and I received I-797C notice on Oct 11, 2014 (notice dated Oct 7th)
    I left US on Oct 4th but I am planning to come for the biometrics appointment.
    1) Is my application still valid although I left US after I filed the application? (before completing the biometrics process)
    2) I entered a US physical address (belonging to one of my friends) in the application. There is a chance that he may not be able to stay home for a long business trip. Is it possible to change the physical address at this stage? If not, can I call USCIS NCSC phone number to learn my appointment date?

    1. Deniz,

      1. Departing the U.S. after the “received” date on your USCIS receipt notice but before the biometrics appointment is not a problem.
      2. Yes, you can report an address change to USCIS.

  24. Gary,
    Thanks for the great guide. I have followed it religiously and was recently issued a second permit. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

    1. Russ,

      This Guide to Reentry Permits is intended as a background briefing to educate clients and potential clients about the work our law firm does. Nonetheless, I’m glad you found it helpful to represent yourself. Congrats.

  25. Gary,

    My wife (LPR) recently applied for a reentry permit based on her need to be out of the US on extended periods due to her work (she is a self employed real estate developer). She requested expedited processing on her application because she needed to return to England to bid on several unique projects. Seems that her biometrics appointment was set up within 2 weeks of her application date, and she walked in a couple days early and her biometrics were taken on the spot. Our question is, assuming her case is being expedited, how long should we expect to wait for a decision? If it is not being expedited, same question, what are the current lead times? And, final question, would hiring an immigration attorney speed things up? Thank you in advance.

    1. Peter,

      It would be rare to need expedited ISSUANCE of the reentry permit because the applicant is rarely in a hurry to use it to reenter the U.S. So, instead, applicants usually request and the USCIS usually grants just an expedtied BIOMETRICS APPOINTMENT to allow the applicant to leave the U.S. quickly.

    1. Ericka:

      Here’s the most common reason: If you have been outside the U.S. for more than 4 of the last 5 years since becoming an LPR, the reentry permit will be limited to 1 year
      (except that the permit will be valid for 2 years in the case of an LPR who is a professional athlete, traveling on U.S. government orders, or employed by a public international organization). See Part 4.1 of the Guide.

  26. Hi Garry,

    I recently applied for a second reentry permit. As my current permit has not expired yet (another month remaining) I was sent a RFE and asked to mail it back in. I was in the US when filing and for the biometrics but don’t know if I it is necessary to go back again just to mail in the old reentry along with the RFE letter.

    Thanks,
    Al

  27. It is stated in the Instruction on form I-131 (page 3 of 13 section c. 2) that “A reentry permit may not be issued to you if: 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.”
    Where exactly are these areas? I am a U.S. LPR studying in Belgium, I am applying for the reentry permit. I would also like to visit my family in Iran while abroad. Would this future visit cause the denial of the permit to me?
    I Appreciate your time.

    1. Farjad:

      The statute give USCIS authority to deny reentry permits where issuance would be contrary to the national interest. INA § 223(b). Pursuant to that statutory authority, DHS may publish in the Federal Register a notice precluding the issuance of reentry permits for travel to certain areas. Form I-131 Instructions at 3 (May 3, 2016). However, “At the present time, there are no bans in effect with regard to travel to specific countries.” AFM 52.3(b)(1).

  28. Hi Gary,

    I am considering using the above-mentioned strategy of departing the U.S. after the USCIS receives my reentry permit application but returning, perhaps to Guam, for the biometrics appointment. I called the USCIS today and they told me that is not allowed, i.e., I cannot leave the U.S. before I do the biometrics.

    1. Stephanie: Perhaps you should seek legal advice from our firm or from another qualified immigration lawyer who can show you the actual legal authorities their legal opinion is based on.

      For example, 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(d) states:

      “(d) Effect of travel before a decision is made. Departure from the United States before a decision is made on an
      application for a reentry permit or refugee travel document will not affect the application.”

  29. Dear Gary, thanks for your guide, very useful! I have lived in Asia for 7 years and had got two re-entry permits in the past already (but I have been back to the US for vacation once a year). My current reentry permit will expire soon. If I apply again, will I automatically get the new one with 1 year validity? Would there be any chance for me to still get 2 year validity?

    James

    1. James,

      Just to confirm what you probably know: unfortunately, nobody “automatically” gets a reentry permit. While the application process can be straight forward, the requirements must be met, including for example the requirement that the applicant be living abroad only on a “temporary” (not indefinite) basis. Also, if a reentry permit is issued, it doesn’t “automatically” allow the holder to reenter the U.S. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer gets to determine whether the holder is eligible to enter, including making sure that the holder has been abroad only on a “temporary” basis.

      As to the validity of a reentry permit, as mentioned abroad, if the applicant has been outside the U.S. for more than 4 of the last 5 years since becoming an LPR, the reentry permit will be limited to 1 year (except that the permit will be valid for 2 years in the case of an LPR who is a professional athlete, traveling on U.S. government orders, or employed by a public international organization).

      Cheers!

  30. Thank you very much. This is perhaps the best information I have ever read on this topic. It’s very through and very informative.
    1) I understand that we need to be physically present in USA while applying. Once we mail the form I-131 can we leave USA, or should we wait until we receive the receipt?
    2) I am living in Australia. I was looking at the field offices for finger printing outside USA, but I couldnt find Australia on the list. Can I get finger prints in Australia?
    Thanks in advance.

  31. Hi,
    I just spoke with a USCIS agent, who told told me that if I leave the U.S. after I receive a notification of acceptance of the form I-131 – but before the biometrics appointment – then I will not be let into the U.S. (ever!). In other words, is it possible, to leave the U.S. between the notification of acceptance of I-131 and the biometrics appointment? My only option is to file the application while I am in the U.S., then leave and come back only for the biometrics appointment and then leave for 2 years. Thanks!

    1. Mauro: While I know nothing of the facts of your situation, it sounds like the USCIS employee you spoke with was mistaken. According to regulations, “Departure from the United States before a decision is made on an application for a reentry permit … will not affect the application.” 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(d). There has been some confusion on this point. Previously, the instructions stated that if you “depart[ ] the United States before the biometrics are collected, the application may be denied.” Form I-131 Instructions 2 (Nov. 5, 2011). Happily, current instructions remove that erroneous statement. Form I-131 Instruction (May 3, 2016).

  32. Hi,
    I am LPR and currently outside the US. I have acquired a re entry permit, and my reason for it was to study abroad. I am writing to ask if working part time and studying at a same time will mean abandoning my residency since the only reason that I wrote when I filed for re entry permit was to study for 2 years.

    Another question is, can I also visit another country aside from the country I wrote in the application?

    1. The Form I-131 asks the “purpose of trip” (Part 4, Item 1a). If the reason you’re staying abroad is to study, then it’s OK to do other things while abroad, like work part-time and visit other countries. Of course, the evidence of your true reason for being abroad would be strongest if you have been studying full time.

  33. Hi,
    I am a LPR and am currently living and working in Ireland. I have a re-entry permit that expires in March 2018. I have 2 questions please:
    1. What happens in March 2018 if I do not return immediately to the US, will my Green Card still be valid at the airport when travelling from Ireland, or will my Green Card not be valid anymore on account of the expiration date of my Re-entry permit? I guess I mean after the re-entry permit expires will I just discard it and just use my green vard again as usual? (I plan to be in the US every 3 months or so but not return to live there for a few years) My green card expires in 2022.
    2. If I want to apply for Citizenship next year will I need to provide any additional documentation, or will my chances be negaitively impacted on account of being out of the country? I think I once was out for just over 6 months but that was only time, and I did have the re-entry permit at that time.

    Thanks so much for you help!

    Brian

    1. Brian:
      1. If you are abroad after your reentry permit expires, then to be admitted to the U.S. as a returning resident: (1) you need a valid entry document–your Form I-551 (permanent resident card) will work if you’ve been out for under 1 year; and (2) you’ll only be readmitted if you haven’t abandoned your permanent resident status. For more on both these topics, see here.
      2. For more on how your absences from the U.S. impact eligibility for naturalization, see here.

  34. Hi, Gary: I won the green card lottery, and now I’m in the process of applying for an immigrant visa. I have to study 2 more years, and i don’t want to stop with my studies. Then I’ll live in the U.S. after graduation. Can I enter the U.S. with my immigrant visa, apply for a reentry permit, and then return abroad to finish my studies?

  35. Hi Gary: I just got my Green Card late last year, and I’m planning on going back to my home country to finish my studies. I still have 2 years to finish college. I’m planning to apply for a reentry permit. My question is, if I put “to continue my studies” in the purpose section of the I-131, would it be OK to work part time while being a full time student? Another question is, can I travel to other countries aside from the country I wrote in the I-131?Thank you!

    1. Vicky: Good questions.

      First, taking employment for a foreign company abroad creates a presumption that a person has abandoned permanent resident status. That presumption can be overcome by showing that the employment is temporary. In your case, perhaps evidence of full-time enrollment in school (e.g., tuition receipts, transcripts) and of the part-time nature of your employment (e.g., employment contract specifying the hours and term, payroll records) can overcome that presumption.

      Second, the I-131 asks what countries you plan to travel to in order to understand the nature of your stay abroad and whether it qualifies as temporary for purposes of issuance of the reentry permit. If your plans later change, in that you want to make a brief visit to a different country for a holiday, for example, that doesn’t have a real bearing on whether your stay abroad is temporary, so such travel shouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, if you plan to move to a different country–thereby altering the basic purpose of your stay abroad–then it may be wise to file a new I-131.

      In sum, it’s good that your planning for how to maintain (i.e., avoid abandonment of) your permanent resident status. You’ll also want to take appropriate steps to maintain certain ties to the U.S. during your temporary stay abroad.

      Our law firm routinely advises clients with respect to planning in such cases, including filing for reentry permits, citizenship, SB-1 returning resident visas, CBP transportation letters, and/or Forms N-470 to preserve residence for citizenship purposes, as well as planning for dealing with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry upon returning to the U.S.

  36. Hi, Gary
    I won the green card lottery, and now me and my wife have the immigrants visas approved.
    I have to study 2 more years to finish my PhD (doctoral) studies, and i don’t want to stop them.
    After my graduation we intend to permanently establish and live in U.S.
    Thus, we intend to enter the U.S. with our immigrant visas and apply immediately for reentry permits (for me and my wife) that will allow us to return in home country and finish my studies.
    Are my studies (PhD) a sufficient reason to approve my reentry permit?
    As we don’t want to live separately for such a long period, are the facts that i am studying abroad and the wish to keep our family together sufficient reasons for my wife to apply for a reentry permit?
    Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    1. Ion: Spending 2 years to finish a PhD program sounds like a valid “temporary” purpose to be abroad for you and your wife. Of course, the immigration authorities make this determination on the basis of the totality of the facts. For example, do you have U.S. ties that are consistent with this reason for being abroad? Is your wife working abroad? If you want to meet with our firm or another competent immigration lawyer to make a plan to preserve your permanent resident status, the lawyer could review all relevant facts to help plan in such a way as to maximize the odds of success and minimize risks.

  37. Hi Gary.

    My family of Green Card holders are travelling out of the country for more than one year. Is it sufficient for just the parents to apply for re-entry permits, or must the kids apply too? What would happen at the port of entry if the kids don’t apply?

    1. Mohd:

      Sorry, but the wise course of action is to shell out the money to apply for the reentry permits for your children.

      If you have a child who has been granted lawful permanent resident (LPR) status and is seeking to re-enter the U.S. after an absence over 1 year, then (as mentioned above) the Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, is not valid for entry to the U.S. It may be possible to apply at a U.S. consulate abroad for an SB-1 returning resident visa (as mentioned above), but that’s a long process, and the visa will only be granted if the stay abroad was “beyond” your child’s “control,” such as if the child was in jail, in a coma, or serving mandatory military service. Another option is to show up at a port of entry and ask U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for a waiver of the entry document requirement. This requires filing a Form I-193 and paying a fee of $585. The waiver can be granted if your child shows “good cause” for lacking a valid entry document. If the application for the waiver of the documentary requirement is denied, the CBP officer may take your child’s Permanent Resident Card, issue a notice to appear before a judge for a removal (deportation) hearing, and let the judge make the final decision whether to waive documentary requirement (in which case the green card will be returned) or order the child removed.

      Obtaining an SB-1 visa or documentary waiver both require a finding by the immigration authorities that your child has not abandoned LPR status by staying abroad on a non-temporary basis. For more about this, see here.

  38. Hi Gary, thank you for your excellent website – such an invaluable resource.
    My husband and I are DV winners and in possession of a Green Card. We successfully applied and received our (first) re-entry permit, which expires May 2017. We have a business in our home country which is our sole livelihood. We cannot sell this business easily/quickly as it would lead to severe financial loss and need to do some significant renovations to boost the business value to enhance the chances of a reasonable sale. My husband would need to re-train at university in order to continue his occupation in the US, which is a costly exercise.

    We will be arriving in the US later this month before the re-entry permit expires with the view of applying for a second re-entry permit. We last visited the US in July 2016.

    We are terrified about arriving at SFO and being interrogated! Does our reason of not being able to sell our business seem reasonable for a second re-entry permit and what ‘evidence’ might bolster our case for admission into the US when we land? We have no property in the US, but have a bank account, lodged a tax return and have family ties.

    Thanks ever so much for any general advice you can give.

    1. Sharon: The questions you raise are about whether you meet these two requirements for the second reentry permit:

      * You have not abandoned that status, as discussed above.
      * You intend in good faith to make a temporary trip abroad (i.e., you intend not to abandon status moving forward).

      That first question is also what you may be asked about when entering the U.S. with a reentry permit.

      The topic of avoiding abandonment is discussed in more detail here. As mentioned in that article, selling a foreign business may be a valid reason for making a temporary trip abroad. However, you may need to prove that (a) you are in fact focused on selling that business, (b) there is a reasonable possibility of doing so within a limited timeframe, and (c) your U.S. ties are consistent with your stated plan. Our firm or another immigration attorney competent in this subject can help you make a plan to maintain your LPR status during your temporary stay abroad, prepare to answer related questions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and prepare to handle potential problems at the port of entry.

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