ALL ABOUT RE-ENTRY PERMITS
Permanent residents of the United States, if looking to leave for more than a year but less than two, would be wise to apply for a re-entry permit for their return. Typically, the United States questions whether long periods of time outside of the country implies you are abandoning your residency and will not allow re-entry otherwise. Re-entry permits are intended for green card holders as well as conditional green card holders. Green card holders who leave for more than 2 years are required to obtain a returning resident visa (SB-1) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. An SB-1 applicant will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and will need a medical exam. They are also not guaranteed and can be very difficult to get. If you plan to be outside the US - or if you think it might be possible - file for a re-entry permit.
How long will it take to get a permit? And how long will it last?
A re-entry permit typically takes up to 90 days to complete and is recommended by USCIS to apply for a permit well before departure,but at the very latest, one should apply no later than 60 days prior to leaving. Once USCIS has received your application and the biometrics appointment has been conducted, it is not required for one to stay within the United States. The application process can be finished outside of the country with a request for it to be sent to an U.S. immigration office or consulate. The re-entry permit will typically last up to 2 years of its date of issuance with exceptions for conditional residents. If the duration of the trip lasts for more than 2 years then s/he must return to the United States and reapply for another permit.
For conditional residents, if the residency of a conditional resident expires before the two years, the re-entry permit will expire along with their residency. In these cases the resident will be expected to apply for a permanent residency and further re-entry permits will not be approved until such status has been given.
Does a re-entry permit guarantee my return to the states?
No. Upon arriving in the United States, officials can deny your re-entry if you are seen as inadmissible. Persons who are found to be inadmissible will not be given a U.S. Visa, green card or entry into the United States. If found inadmissible, one can apply for forgiveness of inadmissibility through an I-192 form, but caveats include the inability to become a permanent resident and return to one's country of origin upon expiration of stay.
Read more about lengthy absences from the United States while on a green card.
Written by Gabriel Martínez
The HMA Law Firm
7926 Jones Branch Drive, Suite 600
McLean, VA 22102