A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) normally may travel outside the United States and return; however, there are a few limitations as follows:
- An applicant’s Permanent Resident Card becomes invalid for re-entry into the United States if they are absent from the United States for 1 year or more.
- The applicant’s U.S. Permanent Residence may be considered abandoned for absences shorter than 1 year if they take up residence in another Country.
A re-entry permit allows Lawful Permanent Residents of the United States who have left the Country to apply for admission to the United States after travelling abroad for up to 2 years without having to obtain a returning resident visa. Re-entry permits are normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends that visa applicants apply for re-entry permits at least 60 days before they depart. Applicants must be physically present in the United States at the time of filing. Processing time for applying for a visa can range from three to seven months depending upon volume and correctness of the form.
Who needs a re-entry permit?
If an applicant has a green card and intends to travel abroad for more than a year but less than two years, they should apply for re-entry permission. The United States Department of Homeland Security reminds visa applicants that they must apply for a Re-Entry permit before leaving the United States.
How Long Is a Re-entry Permit Valid?
The permit is valid for two years. The re-entry permit, once granted, allows the applicants to remain outside the United States for a maximum of two years before it expires. The validity period begins on the day it is issued, not the day the applicants depart the United States.
For some Permanent Residents, two years might not be enough to finish their job, so the applicants can renew their permits. Once expired, they must return to the U.S. to renew it. The applicants will receive an additional two years to remain out of the country.
How to check the status of the Re-Entry permit application
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not be able to tell applicants if they have received their Re-Entry permit. To monitor the status of their application, they must use the online case status checker provided by USCIS. Some embassies and consulates also have online tools where applicants can check whether their paperwork is ready for collection.
The applicant has an old Re-Entry permit. Does he/she need to turn in their old permit if they are filing for a new one?
Re-Entry permits cannot be extended. If their permit expires, they need to apply for a new one. If an applicant has a valid re-entry permit in their possession, they will need to send it in when they apply for a new one. The applicant need not send in an expired re-entry permit. For security reasons, USCIS will not issue a new re-entry permit to someone who already has a valid one in his or her possession. If an applicant needs a new re-entry permit because their previous one was lost, stolen, or destroyed, it must be indicated on the new permit application.
The applicants need to be sure to keep filing their tax returns as U.S. residents during the whole period of their absence from the United States. Failing to do so could be taken as evidence that the applicants abandoned their U.S. residence, even if they have obtained a Re-Entry permit.
If an applicant spends more than a year outside the United States, they will not be considered a continuous resident for the purposes of gaining U.S. citizenship. That means they will face a long wait before they can apply for naturalization. In certain cases, they can file Form N-470 (“Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes”) to avoid losing the time they have accrued towards citizenship eligibility.