Why Should You Use a Re-Entry Permit When Traveling Abroad?

A re-entry permit allows a lawful permanent resident to maintain their green card while traveling abroad for extended periods. Learn more here.



The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has many strict rules and regulations dictating the coming and going of immigrants. One of these is the use of a re-entry permit. 

This travel document enables the green card holders to travel outside of the country for as long as two years while maintaining U.S. residency. If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, then it’s essential to set up a re-entry permit before leaving the country. This proves that the individual intends to maintain legal status in the U.S. while traveling outside the country.

The green card is valid without a re-entry permit for trips that last less than one year. For trips that last over two years, there is a separate process they need to go through before re-entering. If you intend to travel outside of the United States, it is advisable to contact an immigration lawyer to determine what documents you need to apply for.


To successfully maintain your green card, you need to apply for a re-entry permit. Although lawful permanent residents can freely travel outside the United States, they have to show continuous residence in the country. An individual out of the country for over a year may have their green card revoked as it will be assumed they are no longer a resident. 

Suppose you have properly presented your travel document to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials. In that case, they won’t consider your absence from the United States as proof that you’re no longer a U.S. resident. If, however, you failed to apply for re-entry permits prior to leaving the U.S., or your time abroad was more than two years, you will be unable to get a permit. Instead, you will need an SB-1 visa before re-entering the United States.

How to Apply for a Re-Entry Permit in Texas

When planning a long trip abroad, you may need the assistance of any private or government agency to learn how to apply for a re-entry permit. You have to file Form I-131 with proper documentation. On it, you provide information regarding your U.S. tax returns, mailing address, details about your intended trip, and any foreign travel you used after becoming a green card holder.

Since you will have to attend a biometrics appointment, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suggests you file no less than 60 days before leaving the country. If you leave the country before the biometrics appointment, your application will likely be denied.

What Are the Re-Entry Permit Requirements?

Providing your re-entry permit requirements to the CBP in an organized fashion helps you, as a conditional resident who did extensive traveling in other countries, gain entrance into the country. To be physically present in the U.S. after a prolonged absence, you should carry the re-entry permit, passport, and green card with you. Although the permit indicates your intention to return to the United States, the CBP will inspect all your papers and ask follow-up questions to determine whether you abandoned your residence and require a new permit.

Immigration services increasingly scrutinize those who travel extensively outside of the U.S. rather than maintaining their permanent residence. Therefore, it is wise to have a knowledgeable, professional review your re-entry permit.


An immigration attorney can help you determine what documents you need to submit for a re-entry permit. Supporting travel documents might include the following: 

  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Passport
  • Foreign National I.D. Card
  • U.S. Driver’s License

Re-entry permits are not guaranteed. The more accurately and completely you fill out and submit your application, the more likely you will be granted re-entry with your permanent resident status.

How Long Will It Take to Process Re-Entry Permit?

If you are a green card holder, you may wonder how long it will take to process your re-entry permit. Generally, USCIS takes between 90 days and seven months to decide whether to allow re-entry to a person. Therefore, you should apply at least 60 days before you plan to depart.

A Texas law firm can help explain how to obtain a re-entry permit, so you don’t end up stranded.


The right naturalization & citizenship lawyer will offer information and advice regarding how to check your re-entry permit status, as can the U.S. embassy or consulate. Some have online tools that allow you to check your paperwork to determine whether it’s ready for you to pick up. Use your Form I-131 receipt number and check your application status on the USCIS online case status checker

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate if you intend to collect your re-entry permit in person. Later, you should reach out to them to determine whether they’ve received your permit.

Problems Without Re-Entry Permit

If you do not have a re-entry permit or returning resident visa, you will be likely to undergo strict questioning from the CBP when coming back to the United States. The questioning could be seriously strict, and you can also be fined a huge fee or attorney fee while coming back from your trips abroad.

Moreover, if you have been outside of the U.S. for a significant time, CBP will advise the abandonment of your permanent residence status. The hassle could also lead to many complex situations that could be avoided with a valid re-entry permit.


To return to the U.S., you must pay re-entry permit fees. The method for doing so is in person at a USCIS service center or lockbox, by check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or credit card using Form G-1450.

How Much Is Re-Entry Permit in Texas?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Office, as well as your local law firm, can help you determine how much the re-entry permit is. The filing fee for Form I-131 is $575. You also need to pay a biometric fee of $85 if you are aged between 14 and 79. Bear in mind; if you become a U.S. citizen, you can travel indefinitely without additional travel documents, thereby simplifying the process.

Permanent residents who have chosen to travel to another country should file a re-entry permit application and supporting documents to maintain their resident status. If you have questions regarding the process or complications arise, it is wise to visit a reputable Texas visa lawyer like Michael G. Murray, P.A., before your departure for advice and information.

How Do You Use a Re-Entry Permit?

On returning from long trips abroad to the United States, you need to have your re-entry permit, immigrant visa, green card, and passport. On entering the United States, you will be asked questions about your trip, its purpose, and other formal questions by CBP officials. On questioning, if you provide everything in order, the process will be hassle-free for you. However, if not, then you will be welcoming several complexities.

Can You Extend A Re-Entry Permit?

Extending your green card while staying outside the United States isn’t possible. If your green card is about to expire, you need to get back to the United States, file Form I-131, and be present at the biometrics appointment. You will also have to provide your previous green card to the officials.

There is no official limit to applying for the re-entry permit. However, if you are a green card holder and stay significant time outside of the U.S., it will cause a hindrance in the process of getting a full green card. In some cases, the re-entry permit is issued for up to two years.

For example, if you have spent four out of five years outside the United States, then your re-entry permit will hardly have a limit of more than a year. With a re-entry permit, you can secure your immigration status. However, there are some exceptions for U.S. government employees, elite athletes, and some other cases.

Is Re-Entry Permit Is Same As The Advance Parole?

Re-entry permits and advance parole are different documents intended for different users. A re-entry permit is a mandatory document for U.S. permanent residents to re-enter in the U.S. after a long trip abroad. However, the advance parole is intended for non-U.S. citizens as a temporary travel document authorization to re-enter the United States after short trips.

Can a Re-Entry Permit Be Denied?

Yes, a re-entry permit form application can be denied for certain reasons, including

  • You didn’t provide the right documents.
  • You forget to pay the fee.
  • You already have a valid re-entry permit.

These are the possible and most common reasons for denied applications.