If you are a permanent resident planning on traveling abroad for an extended period of time, it may be worthwhile to explore your options with an immigration attorney. Green card holders must be cognizant of the abandonment of permanent residence issue, which potentially comes into play anytime a permanent resident spends more time outside the US than inside. Abandonment of a green card may also be implicated when a resident travels outside for more than six months, and especially so if the permanent resident stays outside for one year or more.
What is a Reentry Permit?
If you are planning on staying outside the US for more than one year, it is critical to look into the reentry permit. The permit is applied for on Form I-131 and is granted by USCIS for up to two years. If a green card holder is granted a reentry permit, he or she may stay outside the US for up to two years, or up to the expiration of the reentry permit (which cannot exceed two years), without losing the green card. For some more information on the reentry permit, please also take a look at this slide.
Things You Must Know
· A reentry permit must be applied for while the applicant is in the US.
· The process does involve biometrics, or fingerprints, which is scheduled and must be taken in the US.
· Only after the fingerprints are taken can the applicant potentially leave and have the reentry permit mailed to a designated address. (However, anyone planning on leaving prior to approval should absolutely consult with an attorney).
· The same form, I-131, is also used to apply for advance parole. However, advance parole is something different than a reentry permit.
Reentry Permits and Applying For Citizenship
A reentry permit does not preserve continuous residence for purposes of citizenship. Any applicant for naturalization must not only demonstrate the requisite physical presence but also continuous presence. Continuous presence must ordinarily be proven when an applicant travels outside the US for six months (180 days) or more. Many people mistakenly believe that a reentry permit not only preserves their green card, but also that any time outside the US with the reentry permit does not count towards their citizenship application. Unfortunately, this is not true. The reentry permit only allows the green card holder to reenter the US with one’s permanent residence intact after a trip of year or longer. However, any time spent outside is considered during an application for naturalization. More importantly, any trip of one year or more-even with a reentry permit-breaks the required continuity for citizenship. An applicant who returns from a trip that is one year or longer must wait at least four years and one day before applying for naturalization. This should not be confused with the application to preserve residence for purposes of naturalization (Form N-470), which is a different concept and the subject of a future article. This is just another illustration why it is important to consult with an attorney who can evaluate the trips and help formulate a strategy that best meets one’s needs. In some situations, it may be better to stay a longer time in the US and apply for naturalization than to apply for a reentry permit and unwittingly postpone one’s eligibility to become a citizen.
We hope that you have enjoyed this article and learned at least one new thing or tip that you may not have known. To keep informed about the latest developments in immigration law, please subscribe to our blog feed by clicking on the “Subscribe To This Blog’s Feed” button on the left. It is important to understand that the above is only general information and not legal advice. It does not create an attorney-client relationship nor should it be relied upon as legal advice. The law is extremely fact and circumstance sensitive. For an individual legal analysis of your specific legal case, please complete the “Case Evaluation” box to the right of the screen to get in touch with one of our attorneys.