Permanent Residents of the United States in most cases may travel outside the United States and return without a Reentry Permit by using their Green Cards as their travel document. If though their stay outside the United States will be for less than one year they will need to apply for a reentry permit before they leave the United States.
There are, however, limitations that Permanent Residents must be aware of before they travel outside the United States. First Green Cards become technically invalid for reentry into the United States if there is an absence from the United States for one year or more. Second Permanent Resident status may be considered to be abandoned for absences shorter than 1 year if the U.S. Permanent Resident takes up residence in another country.
A Reentry Permit can help prevent these two types of problems. Reentry Permits are normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. They will establish that the Permanent Resident did not intend to abandon status and they allow the Permanent Resident to apply for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to 2 years without having to obtain a returning resident visa.
Permanent Residents may also want to get a reentry permit if they plan on traveling outside the United States and cannot or do not wish to get a passport from their home country. Many countries throughout the world allow U.S. Permanent Residents to use a reentry permit much like they would use a passport –placing necessary visas and entry and exit stamps in the permit. Often Permanent Residents use Reentry Permits as their main travel document. Caution: Be sure to check with any country you plan to visit about specific requirements before you travel.
To obtain a reentry permit you must file with the United States Custom and Immigration Service (USCIS) and take a biometrics exam (fingerprints, photo, etc.) when you are physically present in the United States. You should file this application well in advance of your planned trip. We recommend no fewer than 90 days before you intend to travel abroad. If this is not possible and you must leave the United States, arrangements can be made for you to pick up your reentry permit at a U.S Embassy, or Consulate, or a Department of Homeland Secutity office overseas. Caution: The biometrics requirement must be completed before you leave the United States or your request for a Reentry Permit may be denied.
Reentry permits cannot be extended. If your permit expires, you’ll need to apply for a new one. For security reasons, USCIS will not issue a new reentry permit to someone who already has a valid one in their possession. If you have a valid unexpired reentry permit in your possession, you will need to send it in when you apply for a new one. 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.