If you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and are planning to travel outside the United States for 1 year or more, you must apply for a reentry permit before you depart. If you did not apply for the permit, it is possible that your LPR status will be considered abandoned and if you wish to reenter the country you must be prepared to refile for LPR.

What is a Reentry Permit?

A reentry permit is documentation that says you did not intend to abandon your LPR status; it also enables you to apply for reentry to the U.S. after having been abroad for one year or more. If you have been traveling for up to two years, a reentry permit allows you to forego obtaining a returning resident visa. Usually, reentry permits are valid for two years after issuance.

Who Uses Reentry Permits?

People who are permanent or conditional permanent residents (green card holders) will need a reentry permit in instances where they are traveling abroad for one year or more. LPR’s are allowed to leave and return to the United States, though there are limitations. This is where a reentry permit prevents the following problems:

  • Permanent Resident Cards are invalid for reentry into the U.S. if the individual is absent for 1 year or more.
  • If an individual takes up residence in another country for an absence shorter than one year, her permanent residence may be deemed abandoned.

How Do I Get a Reentry Permit?

As of January 2018, in order to receive a reentry permit you must be prepared to file a I-131 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Along with the form, you must send in the following:

  • Copy of identity document that shows a photo, name, and date of birth. 
    • A I-94 Arrival Departure Record is not acceptable.
  • Copy of the front and back of your green card (a.ka. I-551 form).
  • A $575 reentry permit fee written out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

You must also be able to provide the following information:

  • Where you’re going;
  • Where you will be staying (a physical address); and
  • Address of a U.S. Embassy at your destination.

Applicants for a reentry permit must also be prepared to submit to a biometrics requirement and pay a $85 biometrics service fee (as of January 2018). All applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must be fingerprinted, and possibly other biometrics requirements.

Can I Renew My Reentry Permit?

Reentry permits cannot be renewed or extended, and you will need to apply for a new one. If you have a valid reentry permit, you will be required to send it in if you are applying for a new permit.

If you wish to renew due to an error on the permit caused by USCIS, then you can have it corrected without any additional charge. If you made a mistake and wish to correct it, then you will need to pay another filing fee.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Immigration laws are strict and have become even more so in recent years. One mistake can have dire consequences for anyone trying to reenter the United States. It is highly advisable to consult an immigration lawyer in order to prevent serious issues, and to put your mind at ease before you travel.