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Reentry Permit Questions

What is a reentry permit?

A reentry permit allows a permanent U.S. resident to travel outside the country without abandoning residential status. It is valid for two years and saves a person from having to apply for a returning resident visa. In some countries the reentry permit may also be used like a passport during entry and exit, but the laws vary from country to country so one should check the laws of the destination country. If the travel duration is less than a year, there is no need for a reentry permit; instead, the permanent resident card can be used.

What documents are required for reentry permit application, and how long does the process take?

The application process for a reentry permit should be fairly simple. All you would need to do is provide a copy of both the front and back of your green card and then follow the instructions on the reentry permit form. The time it takes your application to process is not fixed, and it may vary depending on circumstances. As a rule of thumb though, 4-8 weeks is an average for many cases.

What are the rules regarding reentry permit, green card, and permanent resident status?

The reentry permit comes into picture for long-term travel outside the U.S. If you are outside the U.S. for a year or more and do not have a reentry permit during this time, you are assumed to have abandoned your green card. The same happens if you have a reentry permit which has expired while you were outside the country. There is one more rule to be aware of: If you stay outside the United States for more than six months within a one-year period, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can presume that you have given up your permanent resident status. However, you can contest this decision by filing a rebuttal and proving otherwise. The usual way of displaying your intent of continued permanent residence is to show proof of bank accounts, job, property owned, etc.

I am student studying abroad but I have a reentry permit. Can I renew it without being physically present in the U.S.?

You need to be physically present in the U.S. to apply for a reentry permit. The U.S. government wants to make sure people who are granted permanent resident status do in fact intend to reside here permanently. The reentry permit allows you to leave for up to two years maximum, but more than that will make it difficult for you to convince the government you intend to live in the U.S. permanently. This presents a problem for students with permanent resident status who want to study abroad for multiple years, as continued absence from the U.S. for more than two years with a reentry permit will result in the green card being revoked. There are two choices in such cases: come back to the U.S. and resume residency, or apply again for the green card once the studies are complete.

What is the suggested course of action if the reentry permit expires while a person is outside the US?

Expiration of reentry permit while you are outside the U.S. is an extremely difficult situation to get out of. However, if it is does, you can attempt to re-enter the United States and try to persuade the authorities in your favor. You’d need to prove you never intended to give up permanent residence in the U.S., and at the same time provide good enough reasons for explaining your absence and not returning before the permit’s expiration. At this point your ability to return will depend on the decision of the point of entry officer.

Can a person stay outside the US for more than two years if the reentry permit is valid?

It’s not possible to stay outside the United States for a period longer than two years, even if the reentry permit is valid. In such cases, the person may be prevented from reentering the country. One option in such this case is to approach the nearest consular and apply for a Returning Resident visa (SB-1) by submitting proof that their status as a United States permanent resident was maintained during this period.

People traveling outside the U.S. should be well aware of the all of the laws relating to reentry permit and green card possession. Failing to do so can have dire consequences, and in many cases may result in an individual losing the ability to return to the United States. It’s best to consult a legal expert before you plan your travel and be clear on all the rules and associated options in your favor.
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