Reentry Permits

Reentry Permits are applied for and granted to Legal Permanent Residents of the United States (Green Card Holders) who temporarily need to remain outside of the United States for long periods of time but for no longer than two years.  An Approved Reentry Permit Application enables the Legal Permanent Resident to enter and depart the United States essentially as necessary without danger of having a prolonged absence interpreted as an abandonment of intent to reside permanently in the United States.  The document itself is delivered to the address noted on the Application, but if the LPR is temporarily out of the country, in Israel for example, then the Reentry Permit will be sent to the Consulate in the country where the Applicant is temporarily residing and the Applicant can either pick up the document or request to have it mailed to an address.


Generally, upon entering the United States a Green Card Holder may be questioned by an Immigration Officer as to how long the LPR has been outside of the country, or, when the LPR last departed the U.S.  If the LPR has been traveling outside of the U.S. for a period of more than six months or if the LPR travels abroad frequently, it is likely that he or she will be questioned regarding the prolonged departure or numerous trips abroad from the United States – unless the traveler is in possession of a valid Reentry Permit when requesting Entry.


The frequent or long absent LPR traveler from the United States will be scrutinized and if there is no evidence of strong ties to the U.S. (job, family, residence, taxes, bills, bank accounts) the LPR may be advised that no further entries will be permitted under such circumstances unless a Reentry Permit is presented at the time of Entry.  Although the Government must raise the burden of proof that the LPR Applicant for entry does not really reside in the U.S., it is sufficient to say it has done so when the so claimed LPR only visits the U.S. periodically, has no gainful employment in the country, no residence and or accounts or business, no immediate family residing in the country, etc.


Lest there be any misunderstanding, it should be emphasized that unlike in the past, the Immigration Officer can easily check the U.S. travel history of the intending visitor or resident.  It is basically a myth that there is no way to record a traveler’s exit from the United States.  Although many believe there is no record of departure because they do not appear to be inspected by Immigration upon their exit from the United States, this is not true.  For many years it has been the task of the Airline employees issuing Boarding Passes to record the traveler’s details and/or remove an I-94 (record of visitor permit) from the passport of a visitor to the United States – without actual inspection by an Immigration Officer.  Today, the I-94 is electronically recorded and in any event the passenger’s passport is inspected and duly recorded by the Airline employee at the airport ticket counter before departure from the U.S.  It is naïve to believe, in this day and age of heightened security measures, especially at ports of travel, that no records will be inspected before a traveler boards a flight.


Many people ask if having a Green Card means that they must live in the United States all year long.  People are generally looking for a yes or no answer and as is the case in most things in life and in matters of immigration in particular there is not always a one word, conclusive answer to their question.


Green Card is the term generally used for Legal Permanent Residence in the United States.  Legal Permanent Residence presumes that the Resident is generally domiciled in the U.S. and that the U.S. is where the Legal Permanent Resident Green Card holder calls home.  The LPR will generally have a home, job, car, friends, subscriptions, memberships, accounts, etc. where he lives.  His or his accounts will be active and although he may be permitted to travel unrestrictedly, such travel is usually brief and for vacation or business purposes.  Where this is not the case, or where the Green Card Holder is out of the U.S. for long and frequent period of time, when his or her immediately family resides outside of the United States and where his or her business interests or job are outside of the U.S., etc. – it shall be presumed that there is no real intent to reside permanently in the country.  In such cases, a Reentry Permit will rebut this presumption and demonstrate to the Immigration Officer at the Port of Entry that such is not the case and that the reason for the LPRs absence has been reviewed and legitimized by the USCIS, returning the burden of proof squarely on the Government to show otherwise.


Some of my clients will argue that Israel might always be there home but that they choose to live in the U.S., while others will argue that the U.S. is their home but they prefer to live in Israel…Domicile and Legal Permanent Residence do not always fit in with that description.  Where Domicile might infer intent by some legal definition, as far as the U.S. Immigration authorities are concerned it means residency – actual physical residency or intent for imminent actual physical residency in the U.S.


Where the LPR has no intent to abandon his status as a Permanent Resident of the U.S., but has a legitimate reason for residing outside the U.S. temporarily, the appropriate action to take is to file an Application for a Reentry Travel Permit with USCIS.  The Application for a Reentry Permit can only be filed inside the U.S. and although the Applicant need not remain in the country while the Application is pending, he or she must complete a Biometric examination before departing the U.S. (or return to do so) before the Application is processed.


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