Don’t Risk Losing Your Green Card: What You Should Know About Reentry Permit
If you hold a Green Card and travel frequently outside the United States, it is essential to be aware of the potential for losing your permanent residency. Despite the time and efforts to obtain it, permanent residency can be lost more easily and quickly than you might think. As a Green Card holder, you are required to establish the United States as your primary place of residence. This means that having two residences, one in another country and one in the US, may disqualify you from being considered a permanent resident.
However, it is still possible to travel outside the United States for both personal and work-related reasons. Just keep in mind that spending an extended amount of time outside of the US can raise concerns about whether you intend to maintain permanent residency. Remember, permanent residency is a privilege that can be easily lost if not properly maintained.
So, take the necessary steps to ensure that your permanent residency status remains intact.
When traveling outside the US, it’s essential to be prepared for potential questioning by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon reentry. The CBP officer may ask about the purpose of your trip, whether you still intend to live in the US, or whether you’re just using your Green Card as a visa to freely be able to enter the US?
- If a Green Card holder is absent from the US for more than six months during a single trip, the CBP officer may presume that the holder abandoned their intent to reside permanently in the US. The burden of proof is on the Green Card holder to demonstrate close ties to the US, such as property ownership, filed taxes, bank accounts, a driver’s license, car registration, and bank statements. Without a Reentry Permit, the Green Card holder may face questioning and possible detention by CBP upon reentry. We recommend all permanent residents, when traveling, to always carry a file containing such evidence of close ties, no matter how short is your planned trip.
- If a Green Card holder is absent from the US for over a year during a single trip without a Reentry Permit, it’s highly unlikely that they will convince the CBP officer that they had reasonable reasons for the extended absence. In such cases, their Green Card may be considered abandoned, and they will have to go through the costly and time-consuming process of being summoned to the immigration court to prove that you did not abandon your permanent residency in the US or for obtaining a new Green Card.
To avoid these scenarios, Green Card holders can apply for a Reentry Permit. This permit authorizes them to be absent from the US for up to two years, and it can be extended for another two years without losing their permanent resident status.
How do I get a reentry permit?
To obtain a reentry permit, Green Card holders must file an application with USCIS before departing the US. It is essential to plan ahead, as the processing time can take many months. The application requires detailed information about travel plans, reasons for the extended absence, and supporting documentation. Biometrics fingerprinting is also required, which must be done while physically present in the US. Some people choose to apply for the reentry permit, then leave the US to take care of their needs in their home country and return for biometrics before departing again. The reentry permit is granted liberally.
What will happen if I do not apply for a reentry permit before traveling outside the United States?
Applying for a reentry permit before leaving the US for more than a year is crucial. Failure to do so may result in abandonment of permanent resident status and referral to an immigration judge. If this happens, contact the US consulate about a returning resident visa. Even if you do not plan to be absent for more than one year, but you travel frequently, a re-entry permit may prevent additional questioning at the border.
Can I apply for a reentry permit outside the United States?
It is only possible to file for a reentry permit while you are physically in the US, and biometrics must be obtained while in the US. However, if requested, USCIS can send the reentry permit to a US embassy or consulate overseas.
Can a reentry permit be extended?
Yes, reentry permit is valid for two years, but it can be extended for additional two and then in increments of one year.
We recommend all lawful permanent residents with frequent travel plans or a possibility of extended absences from the United States to apply for a reentry permit. With our help, you can secure your permanent residency and travel with confidence. To schedule a consultation about applying for reentry permit, please use this link: Schedule a Consultation – I.S. Law Firm, PLLC