Once you have received your Green Card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States, does that mean you cannot leave the country again? Certainly not. Traveling abroad is legal for all Green Card holders, but depending on how long you stay outside of the country, getting back in may be difficult. This is where Re-Entry Permits enter the picture.
If you travel abroad with a Green Card for a period of less than six months, you should have no issue returning to the United States at any time. If you stay any amount of time between six and twelve months, there is a rebuttable presumption you have abandoned U.S. residency. This means that when you speak to the Immigration Inspector while trying to re-enter the United States, they may claim that you abandoned your status by staying away so long. You can still convince them, or a federal judge, that you did not actually abandon your residence status.
If your travel lasts for more than a year, however, it will be assumed that you abandoned your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. The USCIS may try to take away your Green Card. The way to avoid this happening is by obtaining a Re-Entry Permit. Re-Entry Permits are obtained from the USCIS in advance of your travel. They are similar to “insurance policies” – you tell the government ahead of time that you are planning to travel outside the U.S. for an extended period of time but intend to continue your residency in the U.S. upon your return. The USCIS will give you a permit that allows you to keep your residency for up to two years while outside the U.S.
Re-Entry Permits are only approved if they are submitted in advance while you are still inside the United States. If approved, the USCIS will capture your biometrics (scan your fingerprints) and use them to identify you along with your Permit. While you are residing in another country, you still must pay your United States taxes, on time, every year that you are away. You cannot renew your Re-Entry Permit if your travel ends up lasting more than two years, but you can apply for a new one.
If you are planning on traveling outside the U.S., you want the help of an experienced lawyer to assist you in applying for a Re-Entry Permit. The USCIS will deny your application if you miss the appointment to scan your biometric information, as well as if any of your paperwork gets misplaced. The process has not changed at all in light of the pandemic.
The best way to obtain a Re-Entry permit is still far in advance and with the help of a lawyer. If you need to apply for a Re-Entry Permit, contact Valvo & Associates today to get started. We are here to serve, lead, and support you every step of the way.