Getting a Re-Entry Permit Before Leaving the US

business approved stamp, permit document and certificate concept

Traveling outside of the U.S. can be an exciting experience, but it also carries some risks, especially if you don’t have the right paperwork in order. One important document is a re-entry permit, which allows you to come back to the U.S. after traveling abroad. Unfortunately, the process of obtaining a re-entry permit can be complicated and time-consuming. It’s important to start the process early, as waiting until the last minute can lead to delays and potential problems when you are trying to re-enter the country.

An Overview of Re-Entry Permits

Re-entry permits are an important document for anyone who plans to leave the United States for some time, either for business or pleasure. These permits are meant to ensure that any foreign national residents in the US will have no difficulty returning from a trip abroad. Furthermore, re-entry permits can also help those who apply to renew their nonimmigrant status in the future and avoid potential complications regarding visas.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues re-entry permits, which are valid for two years and allow foreign nationals to travel abroad multiple times within those two years. Furthermore, certain foreign nationals may even be eligible for a re-entry two-year which is valid for up to five years. It is important to note that while having a permit does not guarantee you entry into the US, it can make it easier by showing that you are lawfully present in the US and plan to return after your international travels.

What is a Re-Entry Permit?

A re-entry permit is an official document that allows you to travel outside of the United States and return without having to apply for a visa. It is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for those who are legally authorized to reside in the United States. This permit grants you the ability to leave the US and come back without having to go through a long process of applying for a visa again. The permit will include;

  1. Your name,
  2. Photograph,
  3. Identifying Information,
  4. Proof of Current Legal Status in the United States, and
  5. It also acts as a valid form of identification and authorization of your presence in the US during your period of travel.

A re-entry permit is an important document, particularly if you plan on traveling abroad multiple times in a short period or intend to stay away from the US for more than one year. A re-entry permit ensures that you can come back home without the hassle and continue living lawfully in the US.

Who Needs to Get a Re-Entry Permit?

If you are a permanent resident in the United States and you plan on taking a trip outside of the country, it’s important to get a re-entry permit before you go. This is true even if your trip is for just a few weeks or even several months – it is still essential to get the permit if you are planning to come back to the U.S. The USCIS has specific guidelines on who needs to obtain a re-entry permit, and those requirements can be found here. Some of these requirements include:

  • You must be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
  • You must have proof that you intend to remain in the U.S. permanently.
  • You must be able to demonstrate ties to the U.S., such as employment.
  • You must not have any criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.

Moreover, if you plan on staying outside of the US for more than 6 months, then a re-entry permit may be required for your reentry into the US before your green card expires. Getting ahead and obtaining this permit will save you time and hassle upon your return as it will ensure that you are allowed back into the country without any problems.

Who should get a Re-Entry Permit?

If you are a non-US citizen or permanent resident who is planning on traveling outside the US for a limited time, it’s important to get a re-entry permit before you leave. A re-entry permit allows you to maintain your status and return to the US after your travels without having to apply for a new visa or green card. Regardless of your status as a foreign national, there are several situations where obtaining a re-entry permit is essential:

  1. If you are a conditional permanent resident, who has been in the US for less than two years at the time of travel
  2. If you have an approved advance parole document
  3. If you are applying for an extension of stay, change in status, or other immigration benefits while traveling abroad

Even if you do not fall under any of these categories, you are still eligible for a re-entry permit depending on the length and purpose of your travel. It’s best to consult with an immigration lawyer to make sure that all your ducks are in order before leaving the US.

How to Apply for a Re-Entry Permit?

Applying for a re-entry permit ahead of time is the only way to guarantee you will be allowed to return to the United States without any problems. There are several ways to apply for a re-entry permit:

  • Online Application Form- You can fill out the online form on the USCIS website. This is the most convenient way to apply, but you will need to have a valid passport and pay an application fee.
  • Mailing your Application- If you don’t feel comfortable using an online form, you can also mail your application directly to USCIS. Make sure to follow all instructions and include all necessary documents, such as a copy of your passport and evidence of why you are leaving and intend to re-enter the U.S.
  • In-person at a local USCIS Office- For those who do not have access to a computer or who would like extra help with their application, it is possible to visit your local USCIS office for assistance. You will need an appointment and all necessary documents, so make sure to check with your local office before going in person.

Key Documents you’ll need to Apply

When traveling outside of the United States, it’s important to make sure you have the required documents to get a re-entry permit. Here are some of the key documents you’ll need to apply:

  1. Passport- A valid passport is required for all US citizens or permanent residents who plan to travel abroad. Make sure your access does not have any expired pages and that it is valid for at least six months after your scheduled return date.
  2. Travel Itinerary- Provide details about your travel plans including dates and destinations. This must include the destination country, destination city, departure date, return date, and mode of transportation (airplane, car, boat). A copy of your ticket can be submitted instead of an itinerary.
  3. Permanent Residency Card (Green Card)- US permanent residents must submit their current Permanent Residency Card (Green Card) and their re-entry permit application.

Supporting Documents

In addition to your passport and travel itinerary/ticket, you may also need to provide other supporting documents such as a copy of your birth certificate or marriage certificate depending on the purpose of your travel.

What you can Expect in the Issuing Process?

Applying for a re-entry permit before leaving the United States may seem like a tedious process, but it is worth the effort. When you file for a re-entry permit, you can expect to receive an appointment notification within two weeks. During this time, you will be asked to complete an application, gather the necessary documents, and attend an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply. The documents that are typically needed include:

  1. A valid passport,
  2. Proof of legal status in the United States,
  3. Fingerprints,
  4. Payment for the application fee,
  5. Photos with your application, and
  6. Any other documents requested by the embassy or consulate to complete your application.

The issuing process can take up to four weeks, so it’s important to plan and submit your application as early as possible. With a re-entry permit, you’ll have peace of mind when traveling outside of the U.S., knowing that you’ll be able to return safely and without any delay.