Coming to the United States and obtaining a green card is no small feat, and it is a legal status that holds many benefits for immigrants. While one has many reasons to come to America and enter the path to citizenship, there are also various reasons a green card holder may need to travel outside of the country.
Whether it is to visit family, attend a higher education institution or conduct international business, green card holders can travel to and from the United States without the need to apply for a visa upon their return. However, it is important to note that there are limitations as well as situations where a re-entry permit is necessary.
What is a re-entry permit?
A re-entry permit establishes that a lawful permanent resident does not or did not intend to abandon their status when traveling outside of the United States, and it allows them to apply for admission after traveling abroad for up to two years without the need for a returning resident visa.
A re-entry permit can help a green card holder avoid two types of problems. First, it can prevent your status from being invalidated for re-entry to the United States because you were absent from the country for one year or more. Second, it can prevent your permanent residence status from being considered abandoned due to an absence that is less than one year but where a residence is taken up in another country.
Applying for a re-entry permit
In order to obtain a re-entry permit, you need to file Form I-131 while in the United States. If you are currently abroad, you cannot apply for a re-entry permit. It is advised that this form is filed no less than 60 days prior to the intended travel date, it should be noted that travel abroad is still possible if an I-131 is pending and approved while abroad.
If they aren’t careful about it, traveling abroad without U.S. citizenship can jeopardize one’s rights to re-entry. It is important to fully understand your situation and how best to address your immigration law matter.