What Is Green Card?
- A green card, known officially as a permanent resident card, is an identity document that shows that a person has permanent residency in the United States
- Green card holders are formally known as lawful permanent residents(LPRs)
- As of 2019, there are an estimated 13.9 million green card holders of whom 9.1 million are eligible to become United States citizens
- Approximately 65,000 of them serve in the S. Armed Forces
Advantages of Green Card
- Green card holders are statutorily entitled to apply for U.S. citizenship after showing by a preponderance of the evidence that they, among other things, have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years and are persons of good moral character
- Those who are younger than 18 years old automatically derive U.S. citizenship if they have at least one U.S. citizen parent
Why is it Called a “Green Card”?
- The card is known as a “green card” because of its historical greenish color
- It was formerly called a “certificate of alien registration” or an “alien registration receipt card”.
- Absent exceptional circumstances, immigrants who are 18 years of age or older could spend up to 30 days in jail for not carrying their green cards
Lawful permanent residents, also known as green card holders, have certain rights and responsibilities as highlighted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and other federal agencies
- Reside permanently in the United States provided they do not commit actions that would make them removable under the INA
- Join and serve in the United States Armed Forces, including in many law enforcement agencies
- Work anywhere in the United States (except for many federal jobs and some companies under contract by the federal government)
- Be protected equally by the law of the United States, their State of residence, and local jurisdictions
- Travel freely outside the United States for up to one year as a tourist
- Petition for (or sponsor) certain family members to immigrate to the United States as lawful permanent residents. Such family members include spouse and unmarried children of any age
When Will You Need a Reentry Permit Even if you Have LPR?
- Your Permanent Resident Card becomes technically invalid for reentry into the United States if you are absent from the United States for 1 year or more
- Your U.S. permanent residence may be considered abandoned for absences shorter than 1 year if you take up residence in another country
A reentry permit can help prevent two types of problems:
- A reentry permit establishes that you did not intend to abandon status, and it allows you to apply for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to 2 years without having to obtain a returning resident visa
- Reentry permits are normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance
- You may also want to get a re-entry permit if you plan on traveling outside the United States and cannot or do not wish to get a passport from your home country
- Many countries throughout the world may allow you to use a reentry permit much like you would use a passport
- Some countries might place necessary visas and entry and exit stamps in the permit—so you may use it as your main travel document
Please make sure to check with any country you plan to visit about specific requirements before you travel
How Can I Get a Reentry Permit?
- To obtain a reentry permit, file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document
- You should file this application well in advance of your planned trip
- Filing instructions and forms are available on the USCIS Web site at uscis.gov
- The instructions on the form will give you more details. For additional questions, check our Web site or call Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283
What Will Be the Consequences of Not Applying for a Reentry Permit Before I Travel Outside of the United States?
- If you stay outside of the United States for 1 year or more and did not apply for a re-entry permit before leaving, you may be considered to have abandoned your permanent resident status
- If this happens, you may be referred to appear before an immigration judge to decide whether or not you have abandoned your status
- If you are in this situation, contact the U.S. consulate about a returning resident visa.
Can I File My Form I-131 to Get a Reentry Permit While I Am Outside the United States?
- You cannot file a Form I-131 to obtain a reentry permit unless you are physically present in the United States when you fill the form
- Also, you can only file your Form I-131 no fewer than 60 days before you intend to travel abroad
If I file Form I-131 to get a Reentry Permit While I am in the United States, can I leave the Country While It is Pending?
- USCIS recommends that you file Form I-131 while you are in the United States
- However, you do not have to be in the United States for USCIS to approve your Form I-131 and issue a reentry permit to you if your biometrics (photo, fingerprints) have been obtained
- You can indicate on your Form I-131 that you want USCIS to send your reentry permit to a U.S. Embassy, consulate or a DHS office overseas, so you can pick it up from one of those facilities
If I file Form I-131 for a Reentry Permit While I am in the United States, Can I Submit My Biometrics While I Am Outside the United States?
- When you file your Form I-131 to obtain a reentry permit, USCIS will notify you when to appear at a designated Application Support Center (ASC) to obtain your biometrics
- You must provide your biometrics at the ASC while you are in the United States
- If you leave the United States before you provide your biometrics, USCIS may deny your application
Do I Have to File a Form I-131 for a Reentry Permit if I Had to Leave United States?
- You do not need a re-entry permit if you will be outside the United States for less than 1 year
- If you have been outside the United States for less than 1 year, you may use your Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) as your travel document
Can I Reuse My Old Reentry Permit?
- No, it might have expired if it’s from a long time ago
- Reentry permits cannot be extended. If your permit expires, you’ll need to apply for a new one
- If you have a valid re-entry permit in your possession, you will need to send it in when you apply for a new one
- However, you need not send in an expired reentry permit
- If you need a new reentry permit because your previous one was lost, stolen, or destroyed, please indicate this on your application for the new permit
Note: For security reasons, USCIS will not issue a new reentry permit to someone who already has a valid one in his or her possession.
Immigration law can be complex, and it is impossible to describe every aspect of every process. You may wish to be represented by a licensed attorney.
Talk to a reliable immigration attorney to ask about a reentry permit or other visa options for your business to bring in foreign talent from abroad.
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