January 4, 2010: What are the limitations of re-entry permits and their impact on Naturalization?

What are the limitations of re-entry permits and their impact on Naturalization?

How many times after getting a green card can you obtain a re-entry permit? Is there a limit?

Assuming that you are still coming and going less than every 180 days but this situation has continued for years. Since the re-entry permit is only good for two years, can you get another re-entry permit after that two years?

When you travel a great deal can you be denied admission? Does this scenario make it risky for Naturalization?
— Anonymous

Re-entry permits may renewed on a regular basis, provided that the lawful permanent resident is otherwise qualified. The more important legal issue is your subjective intent to return to the United States after an extended trip abroad and being able to prove that intent through objective facts.

By traveling with a re-entry permit, it is an indication to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agent at the port of entry that you had the intent to return at the time left the United States.

If you have long stays outside of the United States, you may need to prove with objective evidence that you always had the intent to return. Objective evidence includes your family ties, property ownership, and business affiliations.

When filling out the Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, make sure you read the form carefully and answer all of the relevant questions truthfully. You will have to be in the United States when the Form is filed and you will also need to have your biometrics (fingerprints) captured.

The re-entry permit may be issued for 2 years, but it may also be issued for less time, depending on your case. As you may already know, extended travels outside the United States may prevent you from being eligible for Naturalization.

The Naturalization laws require that you not have any trips abroad that are 180 days or longer. Also, you must be physically in the United States at least half of the time during the five year period immediately proceeding the filing of the Naturalization application.

In summary, it is always a good idea to travel with a re-entry permit if you know you are going to be outside the United States for extended periods of time, though the permit does not necessarily guarantee your re-admission at the port of entry.

It may be wise for you to consult with an immigration attorney before applying for a re-entry permit and/or Naturalization to discuss the laws as it pertains to your specific case.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys