If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you may enter and leave the US multiple times, as long as you don’t stay outside of the United States for more than 1 year. If you plan to stay outside of the US for longer, you must apply for a re-entry permit. That requires you to file an I-131 application for USCIS.
If you need help on your re-entry permit, contact Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez. Giselle helps clients with the full range of immigration challenges, including visa extensions. She is bilingual (English & Spanish), and works with clients throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts. Contact Giselle today to discuss your case, or read on to find out more about keeping your immigration status.
When should you apply for a re-entry permit?
Ideally, if you know your trip will take you out of the United States for longer than a year, you’ll apply for a re-entry permit before leaving. That will give you two years in which your permanent-resident status will be maintained.
You may only apply for a re-entry permit from within the United States: you can’t do it from other countries. Also, those permits may not be renewed or extended: it is vital for you to get back into the United States within that two-year period of time if you don’t want to nullify your legal permanent resident application.
What if you did not get a re-entry permit before leaving the United States?
If you didn’t apply for a re-entry permit but left the United States for longer than a year, you can apply for a “returning resident visa,” also known as an SB-1 visa. You’ll have to do that at your nearest United States consulate or embassy. You’ll need to apply at least three months before your desired date of return to the US.
You will generally need to show that your time outside of the US was extender for reasons you could not control. For example, those who were stranded in other countries due to pandemic travel restrictions have a valid reason for being unable to make their intended return date.
What if you applied for a green card, haven’t received one, and need to travel?
You can apply for Advance Parole. That document will allow you to travel without nullifying your green card application.
The Advance Parole application requires you to fill out the I-131 application.
You may need to take other steps
Applying for a re-entry permit, advance parole, or an SB-1 visa won’t necessarily protect your green card status or application. Before you travel and apply you should consult with an immigration attorney. You need to be able to show the United States government that your travel is temporary, and that you will maintain ties to the United States while you’re gone. That means you can’t just fill out an application and hope for the best. You need legal counsel that helps you make your strongest case. Every time you must fill out an immigration form you’re involved in a legal process that can get complicated quickly. We can help you protect your lawful permanent resident status or application. Contact Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez to get help today.