Understanding Re-Entry Permits for Permanent Residents


When you’re a green card holder, you can’t just leave the United States whenever you want and come back whenever you want. At least, you can’t if you intend to keep your green card.

You’ve got to take some preliminary steps, or the United States government will assume you’re abandoning your hard0won status. If that happens, you might not be able to get it back.

Re-entry permits are the means by which you do this. 

What is a re-entry permit?

A re-entry permit allows you to retain your permanent residency status when traveling abroad for periods of up to two years.

While technically, you don’t need one if you’re going to be traveling for a shorter period of time, anything can happen. In a world where a pandemic or major climate disaster could leave you stranded, planning for the worst’s a good idea.

When should you apply for a re-entry permit?

You must apply before your trip while you are still in the United States. 

The process can take 4 to 12 months, so it’s important to plan as far ahead as you possibly can if you anticipate needing to travel. 

You may pay extra for expedited processing, allowing you to receive your permit in 1 to 3 months. 

To get started, you must file Form I-131.

When do you need a re-entry permit?

You should apply for a re-entry permit whenever you travel outside the United States for one year or longer. You should also apply for a re-entry permit if you engage in frequent travel outside of the United States. 

You may not extend a re-entry permit, so if yours is about to expire, you’ll need to apply for a new one. Fortunately, there are no limits on how many times you can apply for a re-entry permit. However, if you’ve spent more than 4 of the previous 5 years outside the United States, your new permit will only be valid for a single year.

If you’re a conditional permanent resident, the permit can’t be longer than the remaining period on your green card, and spending too much time outside of the United States can complicate your adjustment of status later. 

Questions about re-entry permits? 

Hykel Law can help. We can ensure that your re-entry permit application runs as smoothly as possible.

In addition, you can eliminate many of these travel headaches by applying for United States citizenship. Once you are a citizen, you may travel whenever and wherever you want, just like any citizen. Call us if you’re interested in pursuing that path.

See also:

How Green Card Renewals Work

What is Conditional Permanent Residence?

What Are the Four Types of Immigration?


We Help Solve Immigration Challenges

How can we help you? Click on one of the boxes below to get started:


Employment & Investment Visas

Although it often comes with controversy, immigration into the United States has always played a major role in the strength of its economy. Perhaps no one understands this more than the residents of Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell still welcomes foreigners to one of the richest historical communities of our country.


Family Visas

Not knowing or understanding the system and laws of the U.S. can be a disadvantage for many foreign immigrants who wish to obtain permanent residency in the United States, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Hykel Law’s Family-Based Immigration Services can lead you through the complicated process to achieve either temporary or permanent residency, depending on your situation.


Deportation Defense

Are you afraid of deportation? If you are a foreign national involved in the beginning stages of removal proceedings, the deportation attorney at Hykel Law in Philadelphia can help prevent this unfortunate situation. We can evaluate your immigration case and find the best strategy to defend you from removal proceedings to help you stay in the United States.

Call Now ButtonCall Us Now