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Reentry Permit FAQs: Your Most Common Questions Answered

Reentry Permit FAQs

 

As a U.S. immigration lawyer, I’ve helped many U.S. lawful permanent residents to get their reentry permit. After numerous consultations, I’ve noticed that many people have the same questions regarding reentry permits.

 

In this guide, I’m going to answer the most common questions that I am asked about reentry permits.

 

If you have any questions, or if you need help with your reentry permit, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and I’d be happy to help you.

 

Overview:

 

1. Why do I need a reentry permit?

 

2. Do I need a reentry permit even if I’m traveling for less than a year?

 

3. Can I file my reentry permit application while I’m outside of the U.S.?

 

4. How long will my reentry permit be valid for?

 

5. How much does the reentry permit application cost (What is the USCIS filing fee)?

 

6. How long does it take to get my reentry permit?

 

7. Do I have to stay in the U.S. until my biometrics appointment?

 

8. Can I get my reentry permit application expedited?

 

9. Can I have my biometrics taken outside of the U.S.?

 

10. Can USCIS use the biometrics they already have on file from before?

 

11. Do my children have to do biometrics also?

 

12. How many times can I renew my reentry permit?

 

13. If I enter the U.S. before my reentry permit expires, can I use it to come back to the U.S. again before it expires?

 

14. If I need to reschedule my biometrics appointment, can I select the day that I want the new appointment to take place?

 

 

1. Why do I need a reentry permit?

 

As a U.S. permanent resident (green card holder) you are allowed to travel outside of the U.S. However, certain travel can be harmful to your status. Here are some examples of travel that can be harmful to your status:

 

Travel Over 1 Year

 

If you leave the U.S. for over a year, your green card in no longer valid for readmission to the U.S. If you do not have a valid green card and you leave the U.S. for over a year, you would have to apply for a returning resident visa (SB-1) to re-enter the U.S. The SB-1 visa can be very difficult to obtain as it has multiple requirements that must be met.

 

With a valid reentry permit, you could seek re-admission to the U.S. without applying for a returning resident visa.

 

Travel Over 180 Days

 

If you leave the U.S. for over 180 days, when you seek re-admission to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may inspect and interrogate you to see whether you have been maintaining your permanent resident status or whether you have abandoned your status as a permanent resident.

 

In this case, a reentry permit helps to establish that you intend to remain a permanent resident and that you do not intend to abandon your green card.

 

Unable to Get a Passport from Home Country

 

In certain cases, you may need a reentry permit because you cannot get a passport from your home country.

 

If you cannot get a passport from your country, you may be able to use a reentry permit instead of a passport. The reentry permit is a small booklet with multiple pages to place entry/exit stamps. Many countries accept a reentry permit in place of a passport. To find out whether the country you plan to travel to will accept a reentry permit, you may contact their embassy or consulate in the U.S.

 

New Permanent Resident Planning to Travel (Even if for Less than 180 Days)

 

Another reason you may want to apply for your reentry permit is if you have recently become a permanent resident and you plan to travel (even if for less than 180 days). I have come across many situations where lawful permanent residents who recently got their green card left the U.S. for less than 180 days and were subject to more intense inspection upon re-entry to the U.S.

 

If you recently became a permanent resident and plan to travel (even if for less than 180 days) you may want to consider applying for a reentry permit.

 

Warned/Advised by CBP

 

If you are a U.S. permanent resident with a history of prolonged stays outside of the U.S. CBP may advise you that you are at risk of abandoning your lawful permanent resident status. If you are advised by CBP, then you should apply for a reentry permit to help protect your status. Please note that a reentry permit is not a guarantee that you will be readmitted to the U.S. But it can be helpful to protect your status.

 

2. Do I need a reentry permit even if I’m traveling for less than a year?

 

Yes, as mentioned in my answer above, travel for less than a year can still put your status as a lawful permanent resident at risk.

 

There are three separate reasons why you may want a reentry permit (even if you are leaving the U.S. for than a year).

 

  1. Travel over 180 Days (please see above explanation)
  2. Unable to get passport from home country (please see above explanation)
  3. New permanent resident planning to travel even if for less than 180 days (please see above explanation)
  4. Warned/Advised by CBP (please see above explanation)

 

3. Can I file my reentry permit application while I’m outside of the U.S.?

 

I am often asked if a reentry permit application can be filed while the applicant is outside of the U.S. The answer is no. If you are outside of the U.S. when your reentry permit application is filed, it will be denied. Even worse, your filing fee check will be cashed by USCIS. This means that you will have wasted $660. You must be in the U.S. when your reentry permit application is filed, received, and accepted by USCSIS. It is one of the most important requirements to get your reentry permit.

 

4. How long will my reentry permit be valid for?

 

I often get asked how long the reentry permit will be valid for. The answer is: it depends.

 

A reentry permit is usually valid for 2 years. However, in certain cases, a reentry permit is valid for less than 2 years.

 

According to the immigration regulations, a reentry permit will only be valid for 1 year if since you became a permanent resident, or during the last 5 years (whichever is less), you have been outside of the U.S. for more than 4 years in total. CFR Section 223.2C2.

 

Also, if you are a conditional permanent resident, your reentry permit may be issued for less than 2 years. A reentry permit cannot be issued for longer than your conditional permanent resident status. So, for example, if your conditional permanent resident status is set to expire in 18 months, you will not get a 2-year reentry permit. If approved, your reentry permit would be valid up until the last day of your conditional permanent resident status.

 

5. How much does the reentry permit application cost (What is the USCIS filing fee)?

 

As of the time that I am writing this article, the USCIS filing fee for a reentry permit application for an adult (from age 14 to 79) is $660.

 

For applicants under 14 years old or over 79 years old, the USCIS filing fee for a reentry permit application is $575.

 

You can check current USCIS filing fees for a reentry permit application by clicking this link.

 

6. How long does it take to get my reentry permit?

 

A reentry permit application typically takes between 3 to 5 months to get processed. You can check the current processing times by clicking this link.

 

7. Do I have to stay in the U.S. until my biometrics appointment?

 

There is some conflicting information on this particular question. Here are some excerpts to explain USCIS position toward leaving before the biometrics are completed:

 

  • “Departure from the United States before a decision is made on an application for a Reentry Permit usually does not affect the application. However, if biometric collection is required and the applicant departs the United States before biometrics are collected, the application may be denied.” (USCIS Instructions for Form I-131)

 

  • “Travel is not advisable. If an applicant leaves and comes back, his or her application may be denied while abroad, and he or she may not be able to get back into the country.” (USCIS “Questions and Answers: USCIS Biometric Changes for Reentry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents”)

 

  • “If the [lawful permanent resident] departs from the U.S. while the I-131 is pending, but before the biometrics are taken, then the adjudication of the I-131 reentry permit application will not be affected as long as the applicant returns to the United States to attend the biometrics appointment before the first year of foreign travel has ended. In such case, the [lawful permanent resident] could apply for reentry to the United States using only his or her I-551 Permanent Resident Card if he has been absent for less than one year.” (USCIS “Questions and Answers: USCIS Biometric Changes for Reentry Permits and Refugee Travel Documents”)

 

As you can see from the above excerpts, there is conflicting information regarding whether you may leave the U.S. after your reentry permit application is filed but before your biometrics appointment.

 

In my experience, in certain cases it is ok to leave the U.S. after your reentry permit application is filed and then to return for your biometrics appointment. However, in certain cases, I would not recommend this.

 

To discuss the particular facts of your case, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.

 

8. Can I get my reentry permit application expedited?

 

It depends. USCIS grants expedited processing on a case by case basis. There are multiple reasons why USCIS may decide to expedite your reentry permit application; these reasons include:

 

  • Urgent humanitarian crisis
  • Compelling U.S. government interest
  • USCIS error
  • Severe financial loss to a company or person (if certain conditions are met)

 

If expedited processing is approved, your case can be adjudicated much quicker than standard processing times.

 

If you would like to request expedited processing of your reentry permit, there are additional steps that must be completed. I’d be happy to discuss these steps with you. Feel free to email me at Michael@AshooriLaw.com.

 

9. Can I have my biometrics taken outside of the U.S.?

Very rarely. There are extremely rare exceptions where USCIS may permit biometrics to be taken outside of the U.S., but this is extremely rare.

 

10. Can USCIS use the biometrics they already have on file from before?

 

No, even if you just had your biometrics taken by USCIS for some other reason (such as a green card renewal), you will still have to do biometrics again for your reentry permit application.

 

 

11. Do my children have to do biometrics also?

 

Children under 14 years old do not have to pay the biometrics fee of $85. However, USCIS may still request that they attend a biometrics appointment.

 

 

12. How many times can I renew my reentry permit?

 

Technically you do not renew a reentry permit, instead, the process is to apply for a new reentry permit. There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for a reentry permit. I have personally come across people who have had 4 or more reentry permit.

 

However, it is important to know that if you have been outside of the U.S. for more than 4 years since getting your green card or within the last 5 years (whichever is less) your reentry permit will only be valid for 1 year instead of 2 years.

 

 

13. If I enter the U.S. before my reentry permit expires, can I use it to come back to the U.S. again before it expires?

 

Yes, a reentry permit is valid for multiple entries. This means that you can continue to use your reentry permit to enter and exit the U.S. as long as it is stall valid and not expired.

 

14. If I need to reschedule my biometrics appointment, can I select the day that I want the new appointment to take place?

 

If you cannot attend your biometrics appointment as scheduled, you may be able to reschedule the appointment. The new appointment must take place within 120 days from the day you filed your reentry permit application.

 

If you need to reschedule your biometrics appointment, you may request a day that you would like the new appointment to take place. There is no guarantee that USCIS will schedule the new biometrics appointment for the day that you requested. However, in many cases, if certain steps are followed, USCIS may reschedule the biometrics appointment for the day that is requested.

Conclusion

 

I hope that you found this information very helpful. If you have any questions about reentry permits or if you need help with your reentry permit, please feel free to email me directly at Michael@AshooriLaw.com. I’m very responsive via email and I would be happy to help you.

 


Resources

 

 

 

  • Business Immigration: Law and Practice, 2nd 2: Chapter 4

 

 

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