Legal Blog

Everything you Need to Know About Applying for a Reentry Permit 

A photo of an open stamped passport lying on top of a closed passport with a pair of boarding passes closed inside of it

A reentry permit helps to establish that you did not intend to abandon your status and allows you to apply for admission into the U.S.[1] You can apply for a reentry permit by filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.[2] This will allow you to reenter the U.S. for a period of up to two years. However, you must file form I-131 prior to leaving the U.S. Reentry permits cannot be extended.

Who should apply for a reentry permit?

For lawful permanent residents (LPR) or green card holders, there are three circumstances where a reentry permit is beneficial:

  1. If the LPR will be traveling outside of the U.S. for one year or more;
  2. If the LPR will be traveling outside of the U.S. for more than six months for two consecutive years; or
  3. If a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspection officer has warned the LPR that they are at risk of abandoning their permanent resident status.


If you are abroad for one year or more

A valid Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551 (also known as a green card), only allows entry back into the U.S. if you have traveled outside of the U.S. for less than one year. If you have been abroad for more than one year, you will likely be denied entry by a CBP officer.

If you are abroad for more than six months for two consecutive years

To reenter the U.S. at a port of entry, a CBP inspections officer must determine that you are returning from a “temporary” trip abroad. However, if it appears that you have abandoned your status because the trip was not temporary, then you will be ineligible for readmission into the U.S.

To prove that a trip is temporary, you must be able to show intent that you planned to return to the U.S.  You must possess intent to return to the U.S. as your place of employment or home. CBP officers use the following to determine your intent:

  1. Reason for travel;
  2. Length of stay;
  3. Length of time you spent in the U.S. versus time you spent abroad;
  4. Place of employment;
  5. Place of home and property ties;
  6. Family ties in the U.S.; and
  7. Payment of U.S. income taxes.

The benefit of applying for a reentry permit is that is represents a legal presumption that the trip is temporary.


If you have been warned by CBP that you are at risk of abandoning your status

You should apply for a reentry permit if CBP has told you that you are at risk of abandoning your lawful permanent resident status.[3] This will likely happen upon reentry into the U.S if they notice you have been abroad for a significant amount of time. They may stamp your passport with “Advised” or “Advised Residency Requirements,” meaning that you have been advised that a non-temporary trip could result in an abandonment of status. Another stamp you may receive would say how many days you have spent  abroad on your recent trip.

Eligibility requirements

  1. You are a lawful permanent resident or conditional resident;
  2. You have not abandoned your status;
  3. You intend in good faith to make a temporary trip abroad;
  4. You are physically present in the U.S. during the time you file your reentry permit application. You should intend to file the reentry permit no less than 60 days prior to your trip abroad;
  5. Issuance of a permit will not go against U.S. national interest;

What you need to file your application

  1. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. *
  2. Filing fee for $575 and biometric fee (if between ages of 14 to 79) for $85 (as of 3/25/2019). *
  3. Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative.[4]
  4. A copy (front and back) of Form I-551 (green card)
  5. A copy of a government issued ID showing your name, photo, and date of birth (such as passport or driver’s license).

*For more information about the updated I-131 form, filing fees, and required documents, visit the USCIS website.[5]

Other helpful documents to include

  1. Any previously issued and unexpired reentry permit or refugee travel document. These should be returned to USCIS so that they can be voided;
  2. Evidence of any name change;
  3. Form I-797C Notice of Receipt for any pending Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions;
  4. Evidence that the trip abroad will be temporary (in some cases);
  5. A waiver application if you fall within the grounds of inadmissibility;
  6. If you are under 14 or over 79 (and a biometrics appointment is not required), you will need to submit 2 U.S. passport style photos; or
  7. Documents in support for any request for expedite processing.

Next Steps

Once you submit your petition, you will receive a Notice of Receipt, Form I-797C by USCIS about two weeks later. The next notice you will receive (for applicants ages 14 to 79), is a Biometrics Appointment Notice that will include the date, location and time of the appointment.

At the biometrics appointment, applicants will be fingerprinted, photographed, and provide their signature. The appointment will be scheduled at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) near the applicants U.S. place of residence. Unless rescheduled, if you do not appear for your biometrics appointment, you may be at risk of a denial.

Expedite request

For an expedite request for your reentry permit, you should clearly state “expedite” on the envelope of the mailed petition and on the cover letter to USCIS. Additional documentation explaining the need for urgency should be submitted along with your petition to support your request to expedite. This will help the USCIS to determine if your request meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. Severe financial loss to company or individual;
  2. Extreme emergency situation;
  3. Humanitarian situation;
  4. A request by a nonprofit organization in furtherance of the cultural or social interests of the U.S.;
  5. Department of Defense or national interest situation. The request must be issued by an official U.S. government entity;
  6. An error by USCIS; or
  7. Compelling interest of USCIS.

Attending your appointment

When you attend your appointment, you must bring with you your biometrics notice along with other required documentation such as photo identification. Even if you cannot expedite your petition, you may be allowed to attend the Application Support Center earlier than your scheduled appointment.

Rescheduling your appointment

You can reschedule your appointment if needed by sending in a statement for your request to reschedule along with the biometrics appointment notice to the address listed on the notice. This request must be made prior to your appointment date.

For more information about traveling abroad without abandoning your lawful permanent resident status, visit our blog post.[6]