How to File for a Re-entry Permit

Permanent U.S. residents who plan to travel outside the country for an extended time must file for a re-entry permit. Generally, green card holders are not allowed to remain out of the United States for a period of time longer than a year. If you are planning on being away longer than that, you need to know how to file for a re-entry permit from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Permanent Residents Are Allowed to Travel

Permanent residents, also known as green card holders, are allowed to travel under the current USCIS guidelines. The important thing to remember about travel is that it needs to be limited to less than a year. Any additional time away from the U.S. is a signal that you are not serious about living in the country. You are allowed to travel with your current papers, however, be aware that the laws could be changed at any time, especially if you are from specific countries.

Obtain a Re-entry Permit Before You Leave

It is essential to obtain a re-entry permit before you leave the country on your trip. You must maintain a residence in the United States, even while you are away. A re-entry permit makes it easier to enter the country after a trip abroad. It is used in place of a passport in some cases. Once issued, permits are typically valid for a period of two years. The first step in obtaining a permit is to submit an application.

Fill Out and Submit Form I-131

Form I-131 is an application for a re-entry permit. Fill out all areas of the application that apply to your specific circumstances. You must include proof of your residency status, such as a copy of your green card or passport. You will also need to pay the application and biometric fees and provide two passport-style color photos. You should file about three months before your planned trip to allow plenty of time for processing.

Travel After Receiving a Re-entry Permit

It is generally best to wait until you receive your permit before you travel out of the country. However, if necessary, you may obtain your permit from your consulate. Permits may be denied, especially if you have not provided sufficient documentation. If denied, you are allowed to appeal the decision as long as you do so within 33 days of receiving the letter.

Re-entry permits are a cause of concern to some people. If you have any questions it is best to review your needs with an immigration attorney before you apply for a permit. Call the experienced lawyers at Udall Shumway PLC for a consultation.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Re-entry Permit, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.