Tag Archives: I-131

“Re-Entry Permit” OR “Returning Resident Visa” ?

Generally, a Greencard holder (aka “Lawful Permanent Resident”) is required to maintain his/her worldwide domicile and residence in the United States, and should be physically present during 6 months of any 12-month period.   Absences from the United States for over 12 months, can lead to a loss of the permanent resident status and lead to revocation of the Green Card, if certain precautions are not taken.

A Greencard holder who knows that he/she will be absent abroad (i.e. outside the U.S.) for a year or more, for sufficient cause (such as extended travel, temporary employment, course of study / training, etc.), may and should apply for a Reentry Permit. The application for issuance of a Reentry Permit, Form I-131, must be submitted prior to his/her departure from the United States.  A Reentry Permit is generally valid for 24 months at a time.

Persons who have remained outside the United States for one year or more without a valid Reentry Permit, or beyond the validity of a Reentry Permit, may be eligible to apply for a “returning resident visa” (“SB-1″) with the Department of State Immigrant Visa Section at a U.S. Consulate.

A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the U.S. (often due to circumstances beyond his/her control). You will need to be interviewed for both your application for returning resident status, and usually later for the immigrant visa. An SB-1 applicant is required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and have a medical examination. Therefore, this involves paying both visa processing fees and medical fees.

Under provisions of immigration law, to qualify for returning resident status, you will need to prove to the Consular Officer that you:

  • Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the U.S.;
  • Departed from the U.S. with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
  • Are returning to the U.S. from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.

If, after reviewing your Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117, and supporting documents, the Consular Officer determines that you do not meet the criteria for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa on the grounds that you have abandoned or relinquished your residence in the U.S., you may have to apply for an immigrant visa on the same basis and under the same category by which you immigrated originally.

Returning to the U.S. after an absence of one (1) year or more?

To reenter the U.S. an LPR normally needs to present his or her green card (Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551). A reentry permit is needed for reentry from absences outside the U.S. that are greater than one year but less than two years in duration.

Thus, if an LPR anticipates remaining outside the U.S. for longer than one year, he/she will need to apply for a reentry permit while he or she is in the U.S. See 8 C.F.R. § 223.2(b)(1)(Re-entry permit may be approved IF filed by a person who is in the U.S. at the time of application)(emphasis added). An application is not complete until an individual has provided his or her fingerprints and photograph (i.e., biometrics).

The newly revised I-131 instructions also provide procedures for requesting an expedited ASC appointment for biometrics collection and for requesting expedited delivery of a travel document, where needed. USCIS believes that the majority of LPRs who live abroad will be able to re-enter the U.S. using their Permanent Resident Cards. Those LPRs who currently live abroad, but who know that when they return to the U.S. they will need to apply for a Re-entry Permit because they plan to leave the U.S. again for more than a year and will need the permit to re-enter the next time they come to the U.S., USCIS encourages these LPRs to anticipate their need for the Re-entry Permit sufficiently in advance of their travel and, if necessary, to follow the procedures for obtaining an expedited ASC appointment where absolutely necessary.

If the LPR departs from the U.S while the I-131 is pending, but before biometrics are taken, then the adjudication of the I-131 re-entry permit application will not be affected as long as the applicant returns to the U.S. to attend the biometrics appointment before the first year of foreign travel has ended. In such case, the LPR could apply for reentry to the U.S. using only his or her I-551 Permanent Resident Card if he has been absent for less than one year. If it is necessary, the LPR may make arrangements to have his Re-entry Permit delivered to him through a U.S. consulate or a USCIS office abroad.

Applications for Advance Parole / Reentry Permit now require biometrics.

USCIS has issued revised instructions for Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. The instructions require applicants for re-entry permits and refugee travel documents to provide biometrics at USCIS Application Support Centers. The changes became effective March 5.