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What is a reentry permit?

By April 7, 2023April 13th, 2023Immigration
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If you recently obtained a green card  and you need to spend more than a year outside the U.S., you may be worried whether or not you will lose your green card by staying outside the US for too long. Generally, to maintain your green card, you should not spend extended periods of time outside the US (1 year or more), unless intended to be a temporary absence and you have notified immigration of this absence. If you need to spend an extended period outside the U.S. and you are still in the U.S., you should apply for a re-entry permit.

What is a re-entry permit?

If you have a green card and you plan to spend more than a year outside the U.S., you should apply for a re-entry permit. A classic scenario is when a green card holder gets an offer of employment outside the U.S. and he/she wants to work in another country for some period of time without abandoning the green card.

The purpose of the re-entry permit is to establish that even though you are leaving the U.S. for more than a year, you do not intend to abandon your green card. If you do not apply for a re-entry permit and stay outside the U.S. for more than a year, you may be considered to have abandoned your green card.

If your re-entry permit is approved, it will be valid for 2 years.

When and how to apply for a re-entry permit?

You need to apply for a re-entry permit before you leave the U.S. You will need to file Form I-131 with USCIS and once you leave the U.S., you will not be able to file this form. After you file Form I-131 with USCIS, you will need to attend your Biometrics appointment. If you need to leave the U.S. urgently, you could leave after the Biometrics and in that case, in the I-131 petition you should ask that the re-entry permit is mailed to a Consulate abroad. If you don’t need to plan urgently, you will receive the re-entry permit on your US address.

How long is the re-entry permit valid for?

If approved, the re-entry permit will be valid for 2 years. If you need to stay outside the U.S. for a longer period of time than 2 years, you may apply for another re-entry permit. Generally though, if you have been outside the U.S. for more than 4 years in aggregate either since becoming a green card holder or in the past 5 years, the new reentry permit will only be valid for 1 year.

If you have lived outside the U.S. for more than a year and you did not apply for the re-entry permit before you left the U.S., you could try applying for a SB-1 Returning resident visa at a Consulate abroad.

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