- Why is a Re-Entry Permit needed?
As a legal permanent resident, you have a Green Card which is usually valid for 10 years. However, having an actual valid Green Card is not enough to be an active Green Card-holder. To keep your status active as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) in the United States, you will need to move to the United States and permanently live in the United States for at least half of the time. Basically, once you become an LPR, your center of life should be in the United States.
There could be many reasons for not being able to permanently move to the United States, which requires you to remain abroad for another year or two. A valid Re-Entry Permit allows you to live, work and study abroad without losing your status as an LPR. With a valid Re-Entry Permit, you can first arrange your work and family obligations abroad before making that big step of moving to the United States. With a Re-Entry permit in hand, you will only need to enter the United States once in two years (and after 4 years – once in a year).
Please be aware that even in the current insurmountable times of COVID-19, the USCIS (the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) did not give any exemption for permanent residents to reside abroad without having a valid Re-entry Permit.
- What happens if a Green Card holder is absent from the United States and does not apply for Re-Entry Permit?
If you do not have a (valid) Re-Entry Permit, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official can consider your period of absence from the United States as evidence that you have abandoned your LPR-status. A CBP official could believe you planned to relocate permanently to a country other than the United States. To avoid losing your LPR-status, you will need to have a valid Re-Entry Permit to keep your LPR-status active while residing abroad. With a Re-Entry Permit, you prove that you are not abandoning your LPR-status.
- What does the application include?
Based on your answers in DCLO’s client-friendly questionnaire, our attorneys will draft for you the government forms, write the necessary supporting letters and attach all the required documents. The documents supporting the application should prove two issues:
- They need to prove the reasons why you need to remain abroad (outside the US), and
- They need to prove your ties to the United States.
We can prove your temporary obligations abroad with, for example, an employment letter, school enrolments, or health documents. Your ties to the United States will be proved by, for example, an immediate family that lives in the US, US tax return transcripts, US bank accounts, property in the US, job offers in the US, volunteer work in the US, participation in (religious) groups in the US and affidavits.
Every Re-Entry Permit application is different. This allows us many possibilities to provide strong proof for your application.
- How to submit the application?
After collecting all the forms and documents, we will send you the application by FedEx to your home address. In some cases, it is advisable for you to carry the application with you when entering the United States. Then you can sign the application and arrange it according to our clear guidelines and take the application with you to the United States.
After entering the United States, you will submit the application to the USCIS. The reason why you need to apply from within the US instead of sending a FedEx from abroad is that you must be physically present in the United States while your application is submitted in order to be eligible for a Re-Entry Permit.
Next, there are the biometrics checks. These are verifying your identity.
Usually, we recommend our clients to be in the United States for about 4-6 weeks to be able to also give biometrics. But nowadays the Application Support Centers cannot handle as many biometrics’ appointments as before the COVID-19 pandemic, which means you will need to take more time into account to give your biometrics. In some cases, applicants may even be exempted from giving the biometrics checks. In case you need to go back abroad (outside the US), and the biometrics appointment date is not convenient for you, we can request to reschedule your appointment.
Nevertheless, you will not need to wait in the United States for the final approval of the application. After completing the biometrics, you can go back abroad. If everything goes successfully, your Re-Entry permit will be sent to you at a US address we gave in advance. Many of our clients are using our law office’s US address for this purpose. Once received at our offices, we will send you the issued Re-Entry Permit permit(s).
- What to do in case of travel difficulties due to the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Because of the continuous changes in the rate of positive tested people per state, every state has its own travel restrictions. Our attorneys can inform you about the travel restrictions (which differ enormously) per state. Some states do not require mandatory 14-day self-quarantine, and some do. The same applies for bringing a negative PCR-test or not. If you cannot find a way to travel now to submit the application, due to the pandemic’s closure of the airports in the country you are residing, or due to any high-risk health situations, our attorneys may help.
All said and explained in this article does not constitute a legal opinion and does not replace legal advice. Responsibility for using the wordings and opinions conveyed in this article relies solely and entirely on the reader. This article was written by Dotan Cohen Law Offices, working in the field of immigration law in the United States, Canada, and Australia.