Re-entry permits are designed to allow Green Card holders and conditional permanent residents to apply for entry into the United States after returning from abroad during the permit’s valid period. You do not need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate with a valid re-entry permit.
Usually, USCIS takes about three months to process a re-entry permit application and, when approved, they are valid for two years in most circumstances. (If a permanent resident spends four years out of the past five abroad, there may only be a one year term granted.) During a re-entry permit’s term, you may exit and enter the U.S. multiple times.
Benefits of a Re-Entry Permit
The first benefit of a re-entry permit is that it allows U.S. permanent residents to re-enter the country after traveling abroad for a period of time longer than one year but no more than two years in duration. When Green Card holders travel abroad for longer than a year, they risk denial of admission into the U.S. on the grounds that they abandoned their permanent residence status. Luckily, re-entry permits can solve these problems.
The second benefit of a re-entry permit is that it can serve as a passport for U.S. permanent residents if they don’t have a passport and cannot obtain one from their country of origin.
The only downside to a re-entry permit is that it will not help you maintain the continuous five year residency period required to become a U.S. citizen. If you spend more than 180 days abroad from the U.S., it will end the continuous residence period requirement necessary for the naturalization process, even if a re-entry permit is obtained.
Difference Between Advance Parole and Re-Entry Permits?
Both advance parole and re-entry permit applicants must fill out Form I-131 (Application for Travel Documents) with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, the two documents are slightly different. While, advance parole is issued to aliens that do not have permanent resident status, re-entry permits are issued only to lawful permanent residents. The two documents themselves look much different. An advance parole approval is one piece of paper with your photo on it, which tends to function like a visa to the U.S., and a re-entry permit looks just like a passport. This means that any aliens with advance parole approval still need their foreign passport to legally enter the U.S. Permanent residents with re-entry permits do not need any foreign passport to re-enter the U.S. Also keep in mind the difference is their durations. Advance parole is valid for just one year, and a re-entry permit is valid for two years.
How Do You File for a Re-Entry Permit?
For a re-entry permit, one must file Form I-131, as previously stated. The Application for Travel Documents has a filing fee of $445, which includes the biometric services fee. You’ll also need to turn in the following with your petition:
- Your name and address;
- A copy of your green card;
- Two photos of you;
- Your phone number;
- Your Alien number.
Once completed, you will need to file your Application for Travel Documents by mail at the USCIS Nebraska Center.