How to Apply for a U.S. Re-entry Permit

You may know that U.S. green card holders can travel abroad, but do you know what happens to green card holders if they leave the United States for more than a year? In this blog article, we will cover the basics of what is a re-entry permit, who needs one, and what’s their processing time. Keep reading if you or a loved one holds a U.S. green card and is considering leaving the U.S. for an extended period of time.

What is a Re-entry Permit? 

In essence, a re-entry permit is a travel document that allows green card holders to keep their U.S. residence while traveling abroad for up to two years. However, it is essential to note that a re-entry permit can only be applied for from within the United States, so if you are considering applying for one, you will need to get this visa before heading off on your travels.

A U.S. re-entry permit is essential for green card holders because if you travel abroad for more than a year without this special permit, the U.S. government will assume you have given up your residence, and your green card could be revoked. A re-entry permit lets the Customs, and Border Protection (CBP) officers know that you haven’t abandoned your U.S. residence. However, please be aware that even if you have the re-entry permit, if a CBP officer believes you have planned to relocate permanently to another country. If you are leaving the U.S. for an extended period, it is vital to keep as many connections to the United States as possible, such as filing your taxes, having a U.S. mailing address or employer, or having family connections.

Re-entry Permit Requirements

To apply for a re-entry permit, the green card holder must file Form I-131. You must complete this form and file it with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at least sixty days before you plan to travel. This is because you will also need to get your biometrics taken at your local U.S. office, and your application will most likely be denied if you’ve left the country and cannot make the appointment.

However, once your biometrics are taken, the green card holder does not need to remain in the United States until your re-entry permit is approved. Once Form I-131 has been filed, and your biometrics have been taken, the green card holder is free to travel abroad. The fee for filing Form I-131 is $575, and if you are between the ages of 14 – 79, you must also pay the biometrics fee of $85.

Once you have filed your application, you can check the status of your application through the USCIS online case status tracker. Keep ahold of the receipt number you received after you filed Form I-131, as you will need this to check on your application. Finally, you can’t renew or extend your re-entry permit, so if your current one is about to expire, you will need to return to the United States to apply for a new one. If you’ve spent more than four of the past five years since obtaining a green card outside the United States, you will only be permitted a re-entry permit that is good for a year.

Get in Touch

If you or someone you know has a green card and is considering applying for a re-entry permit, you may want to contact an experienced immigration attorney to help you with your application. Whether you are trying to obtain lawful status in the United States for yourself or a family member or are facing deportation, we have the knowledge and tools to help. At Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC, we work together with our clients to get them through the process and work hard to achieve the best result possible. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.