October 27, 2008: Re-Entry Permit Issues

Re-entry Permit Issues

Hi, I need your help for a re-entry permit once I’m back in the US. I left in May 2008 on advance parole and got my green card approved in August 2008. I’m still outside of the US and the green card was brought to me by a friend. I need to go to the US to file for re-entry permit as I need to travel outside the US to be with my Mom. Does it matter how quickly I get back to the US after the I-485 is approved and considering that I have been out of the US for almost 6 month now, but only 2 months with the green card? Do I need to get back ASAP to file for a re-entry permit, or within 6 months from I-485 approval is ok? Also how should I document my reasons of absence for re-entry permit? Thank you in advance.
— polya

Generally, it is important to obtain a re-entry permit because it demonstrates to the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer at the border that you are returning from a long, but temporary, trip abroad. It also helps to protect you from allegations that you abandoned your lawful permanent resident status because of the lengthy duration of the trip. Further, if you have a re-entry permit, you do not have to obtain a returning lawful permanent resident visa from an American Consulate abroad. Since it appears that you plan to remain outside of the United States for six months or longer in the future and because of your current extended stay abroad, you should probably return to the United States and file for a re-entry permit as soon as possible. As you know, you must be in the United States to file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, for a re-entry permit. The Form asks questions, among others, relating to your absences from the United States and your reasons for needing a re-entry permit and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will consider your answers when deciding whether to issue the re-entry permit. Depending on the length of your previous trips and your reasons for needing the permit, you may be required to provide evidence that you intend to return to the United States to reside permanently and that the trip abroad is merely for a temporary, yet long, period. Documentation may, but is certainly not limited to, proof of ownership of a home or business in the United States. As a side note, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently implemented the requirement that all re-entry permit applicants attend a Biometrics (fingerprint) appointment. Though there are limited exceptions, you will have to be in the United States for this Biometrics appointment. Thus, you must keep this requirement in mind when arranging your travel plans. Also, if you are planning on applying for citizenship in the future, keep in mind that you will have to provide USCIS with a list of all of your trips since become a permanent resident. If any single trip exceeds one year or if you are abroad 30 out of 60 months, it will delay your ability to file for citizenship under the laws regulating Naturalization. As you can see, there are many issues that need to be considered before you travel abroad and/or apply for a re-entry permit. If you have further questions, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can explain these issues in more detail.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys