REENTRY PERMIT: Detailed Guide To The Application Process

If you frequently travel in and out of the United States, you’ve probably heard about reentry permits from your attorney or through web forums. You may have also heard about their benefits and why you should apply for your own reentry permit. We’ll walk you through the reentry permit application procedure and all you need to know as an applicant in this article.

What is a Reentry Permit?

A reentry permit is a permission granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR) or conditional permanent resident to rejoin the United States after a lengthy stay abroad. LPRs are often expected to live in the United States permanently. However, in many cases, an LPR is required to travel frequently or to remain overseas for a lengthy amount of time ranging from a few months to a few years, and the reentry permit is the document that allows the LPR holder to keep their LPR status while abroad. The actual reentry permit is a booklet containing a tamper-proof photo page with biographic information and a number of stamp pages, similar to a US passport.

Is a Re-entry Permit the Same as Advanced Parole?

Another sort of travel paperwork is Advance Parole. If a foreign national in the United States has to travel overseas while waiting for a decision on their green card application, they must apply for Advance Parole. If you leave the United States while waiting for a decision on your green card application, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), will terminate it.

The green card application procedure in the United States can take months or years, and candidates may have obligations that require them to travel overseas during this time. Before leaving the nation, a green card candidate should be sure to obtain Advance Parole for any journey, short or long.

If you already have a green card in the United States, you should not apply for Advance Parole. Instead, you must obtain a re-entry permit, a unique travel document designed particularly for existing green card holders.

Who Needs To obtain a Re-entry Permit?

If you want to keep your permanent residency status while traveling overseas, you must apply for a re-entry permit. If you are a green card holder and want to travel outside the United States for more than a year but less than two years, you should apply for a re-entry permit.

You might be going abroad for less than a year. You will not need to apply for a re-entry permit in this scenario. Without a re-entry permit, your green card will remain valid for short visits. You should, however, preserve ties with the United States. If a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer believes you intend to permanently relocate to another nation, they may deny your re-entry into the United States. As a result, you should keep family links, tax filings, a U.S. mailing address, or continued work in the United States while traveling abroad.

If you travel overseas for more than two years or neglect to file for a re-entry permit before leaving the United States, you should not and cannot receive a re-entry permit. In this scenario, you must apply for an SB-1 visa or a “Returning Resident Visa” through your nearest US consulate or embassy before returning to the US.

Requirements for a Reentry Permit

When applying for a reentry permit, make sure you fill out all of the necessary paperwork and attach any supporting documentation, such as:

  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, has been completed.
  • Two similar passport-sized pictures taken recently
  • A photocopy of an official photo ID with your name, photo, and date of birth clearly visible. This might be anything from a permanent residence card to a passport to a state-issued driver’s license.
  • Form I-797, photocopied (if you cannot produce a permanent resident card for any reason)

Before applying for a reentry permit, you must have these documents.

Application Process for a Reentry Permit

#1. Application Submission

The reentry permit application (Form I-131) is completed and submitted to USCIS, along with the required supporting papers and filing fee. The applicant must be in the United States at the time the application is submitted to USCIS.

#2. Biometrics

Before a reentry permit can be awarded, each reentry permit applicant must undergo biometrics screening at a local USCIS service facility. It usually takes 4-6 weeks after filing for the biometrics to be scheduled. While biometrics can be rescheduled one or more times, failure to attend the biometrics session may result in the denial of the reentry permit. In a few cases, USCIS may be able to reuse prior biometrics.

#3. Reentry Permit Issued

The USCIS may take 6-12 months to approve and issue the reentry permit. If you have a valid passport and can travel overseas, you can leave the United States after completing the biometrics. LPRs who require the reentry permit for foreign travel must wait until it is produced before making travel plans and departing the United States.

#4. Expediting

Because of the lengthy processing delays under ordinary processing, we recommend starting reentry permit applications well in advance of any scheduled trip. Furthermore, the USCIS has devised an “expedited processing” mechanism that allows biometrics to be booked on a first-available basis under certain conditions and exigencies, allowing the applicant to depart abroad. We are often able to schedule the biometrics appointment within 2-4 weeks of filing the application using the expedited processing approach.

The government has stated that a request to expedite the biometrics scheduling would be considered on a case-by-case basis. Due to the significant processing time for a regular reentry permit, in our experience and in most cases, we can make the case in the reentry permit filing that the required biometrics should be expedited due to scheduled travel (plane ticket purchases), work schedule (must appear for a new assignment abroad), medical needs (urgent surgery abroad), or others.

Reentry Permit Fees

Form I-131 has a filing cost of $575. There are additional $85 biometrics fees for anyone between the ages of 14 and 79 to arrange the session. The entry permit filing fees can be paid at a USCIS lockbox or service facility. The reentry permit filing fees can be paid by money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card using Form G-1450 or the “Authorization for Credit Card Transactions” form.

How Much Time Does It Take To Get a Reentry Permit?

USCIS normally takes 90 days to seven months to issue a determination on a reentry permit. As a result, USCIS recommends that you apply well in advance of your trip, at the very least 60 days before you go.

On the USCIS My Case Status page, you can check the status of USCIS’s processing of your reentry permit.

However, as long as USCIS has received your application and scheduled your biometrics appointment, you are not required to remain in the United States until your reentry permit is approved. You might request that it be sent to a US immigration office or consulate abroad.

How Long is the Reentry Permit Valid?

A reentry permit is usually good for two years from the day it is issued.

There is an exception for U.S. conditional residents whose residency expiration date falls before the time limit. They will be issued a reentry permit that is only valid for the duration of their conditional residence, and they will be expected to apply for and obtain permanent residence in the United States before requesting any more reentry permits.

You are not permitted to prolong the validity of your reentry permit. If it expires while you are still outside the United States, you must return to the United States and apply for a new one.

How Will the Re-entry Permit Work For You?

When returning to the United States after a long absence, bring your valid re-entry permit, as well as your green card and passport. The CBP inspector at the airport or other point of entry will inspect your paperwork, ask questions about your journey, and re-admit you to the United States if everything is in order.

The green card re-entry permit instructs CBP officials not to take your absence from the United States as evidence that you have abandoned your U.S. residence. A re-entry permit, however, does not guarantee you the right to return to the United States. If a CBP employee discovers other reasons to suspect that you have abandoned your U.S. home, you may be questioned further.

Is It Possible To be Denied a Reentry Permit?

A reentry permit might be refused for a variety of reasons, including failure to include the required documentation or fees.

One apparent reason for denial is if you already have a valid reentry document. Of course, if you no longer have it because it was lost, stolen, or destroyed, you should state that in your application, and USCIS will give you a replacement.

People who have been denied a reentry permit have 33 days from the date they received the denial notice to file an appeal. The letter will include all instructions and prerequisites for the appeal.

Can You Extend Your Re-entry Permit?

A re-entry permit cannot be renewed or extended, so if your current permit is about to expire, you must return to the United States and apply for a new one. Keep in mind that you must be physically present in the United States to file Form I-131 and to attend your biometrics appointment. When you apply for a new permit, you must also surrender your current re-entry permit.

There is no set number of times you can apply for a re-entry permit. However, if you’ve spent more than four of the preceding five years since obtaining your green card outside the United States, you’ll only be granted a one-year re-entry permit. (Exceptions are made for US government employees, elite athletes, and certain other circumstances.)

Keep in mind that if you’re a conditional permanent resident, you won’t be able to get a re-entry permit that lasts longer than the duration of your conditional green card. Spending extensive time outside the United States may also make the process of obtaining a complete green card more difficult, especially if you live apart from your sponsoring spouse or relative.


If you leave the United States after being inadmissible, or if you become inadmissible while abroad, you may be denied re-entry. Committing a crime, being involved in terrorist activities, developing a physical ailment that is deemed a risk to persons in the United States, and a variety of other factors can all lead to inadmissibility.

Indeed, border officials who meet you upon your return to the United States may refuse your entrance based on the abandonment of your U.S. residence. Although the reentry permit generates the presumption that you did not intend to abandon your residence, you may be denied admission if the official finds clear evidence that you were making your home elsewhere.

Contact an expert U.S. immigration attorney if you have any queries concerning your need for a reentry permit or the application process. The attorney can assist you with the application and offer you the necessary guidance to defend your right to return to the United States.


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