What is a green card reentry permit, and why do you need one? If you would like answers to these questions, or want learn more about a US reentry permit you can read this article. If you know you need help with a reentry permit, please contact us. This article is part of our series of articles on green cards.
Why Do You Need a Reentry Permit
In our discussion on maintaining your lawful permanent residency status, green card rules, we explained how not to abandon your green card. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may allege that you abandoned your status if you remain outside of the United States too long. As a general rule, DHS will challenge your status if you’re outside of the US for more than one year as a lawful permanent resident. Sometimes you’re outside of the United States for a long time through no fault of your own. You don’t have time to plan in advance. In this circumstance, you may need an SB-1 returning resident visa. If you do have time to plan in advance you should request a reentry permit from USCIS.
The idea of a reentry permit is that you are giving advance notice to DHS that you intend to remain outside of the United States for more than one year. If you provide the advance notice, USCIS will provide the permit to excuse your absence, so to speak, before you leave.
How to Apply for a Reentry Permit
You should first check your eligibility. To apply, you must be a lawful permanent resident, either a full lawful permanent resident or a conditional one. You make application to USCIS using form I-131. This form is a little confusing in that you can use it for many different types of travel documents. You only complete the reentry permit section. As you must be a resident to file, sometimes USCIS will ask you for a copy of your tax return. You may want to include it with the application so as not to receive an RFE. The most important point in preparing the application is filing it from the United States. If you file it outside of the United States, or you leave the United States before someone files it for you, the USCIS will deny your application.
The Reentry Permit
If USCIS approves your application, you will receive a permit good for two years that is not renewable. However, that does not mean that the permit restricts you to just two years outside the United States. You may return to the United States and file a new application. If you’ve done this process a couple of times and only spent one year out of the last five years in United States, the USCIS will only give you a one year permit. This limitation does not apply if you are a civilian or military employee of the US government abroad.
Does a Reentry Permit Prevent Abandonment?
A reentry permit is not a magic bullet. Just because you have one does not stop DHS from alleging that you have abandoned your residence in the United States. What it does instead is stop DHS from solely using your absence as proof. DHS will not challenge your residency if you just spend two years outside the United States. You are much more likely to have DHS challenge you if you are on your third reentry permit. If DHS challenges you, you should never give up your residency by signing the form I-407. Instead, you should let DHS place you in removal proceedings and admit you to the United States. Once DHS admits you to the United States you can contact us for help with this situation.
How We Can Help
As you can see from this article, we are familiar with preserving lawful permanent residency for our clients. We are also familiar with fixing our client’s problems if they neglect to get a reentry permit. Whatever your needs are relating to your lawful permanent residency status, we can help. We have even helped clients by coordinating with them. For example by preparing and filing reentry permit applications during a client’s short stay in the United States. If you need any of the services, please contact us.