HOW CAN I TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE U.S. WITHOUT IMMIGRATION SAYING I HAVE “ABANDONED” MY GREEN CARD STATUS?
A legal permanent resident must maintain the intent to reside permanently in the U.S. at all times. A reentry permit allows a legal permanent resident to remain outside the U.S. for a period of up to 2 years. Normally, such an extended period of time outside the U.S. might result in a determination that the legal permanent residency no longer wants to live and work permanently in the U.S. and has thus “abandoned” their green card status. If you must remain outside the U.S. for a period of longer for 6 months for a temporary and finite reason, you might consider applying for a reentry permit.
DO I HAVE TO BE PRESENT IN THE U.S. TO APPLY FOR A REENTRY PERMIT?
It is crucial to apply for a reentry permit before leaving the U.S. on your travel. You cannot file for a reentry permit unless you are physically present in the U.S. when your case is filed.
AFTER I HAVE APPLIED FOR A REENTRY PERMIT DO I NEED TO GET FINGERPRINTED? DO I HAVE TO BE IN THE U.S.?
When you apply for a reentry permit, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S. CIS) will send you a fingerprint (i.e. biometrics) notice stating where and when you must appear for your biometrics appointment. If you decide to leave the U.S. before your fingerprint appointment, your application could be denied.
Even though you must be in the U.S. for your fingerprint appointment, you do not need to be physically present in the U.S. for U.S. CIS to approve your case and eventually issue the reentry permit. A reentry permit may be mailed to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office abroad for you to pick up.
CAN I RENEW A REENTRY PERMIT?
The renewal process is a little nuanced. Technically, the reentry permit is not renewable; if you need to remain outside the U.S. for longer than the allotted 2 year period, you must return to the U.S. and apply for the reentry permit again. You may continue this process until you have reached a total of 6 years outside the U.S. In rare circumstances, a person may apply for a special immigrant visa to remain outside the U.S. for more than 6 years.
WHAT IF I ABANDON MY GREEN CARD STATUS?
A determination of “abandonment” of green card status does not prohibit you from attempting to immigrate again to the U.S. Normally, there is neither a favorable nor negative perception when a new application is submitted for an applicant like the spouse of a U.S. citizen or the parent of a U.S. citizen above the age of 21. However, the process may be more complicated the second time around; you must carefully decide whether or not to take up residence outside the U.S. after putting in the work to obtain a green card.
If you’re interested in applying for a reentry permit, please contact me today.