I have had a green card for 3 years, and want to spend a year in India so that I can help my elderly parents. My employer is willing to temporarily transfer me to our India offices. Is my green card at risk?
A: For these individuals, the option I normally suggest is applying for a re-entry permit. A re-entry permit is a travel document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for those LPRs who need to reside outside the U.S. for a temporary period, and eventually return to the U.S. to resume their residence.
This temporary need can be based on family, employment, or other reasons. In order to apply for a re-entry permit, the LPR must submit the appropriate application to the USCIS while the LPR is physically present in the U.S. at the time of filing. In addition, the LPR must attend a biometrics appointment in the U.S. It is possible to request the USCIS to expedite the biometrics appointment in case the individual has to depart the U.S. by a certain date.
The whole process can take about five months. If approved, the re-entry permit can be issued for up to 24 months, and subsequent extension (from within the U.S.) may be possible. Finally, it should be kept in mind that the re-entry permit does not serve to preserve residency for naturalization purposes. However, it helps to establish the LPR’s intent not to abandon their permanent resident status here in the U.S.
In addition to obtaining the re-entry permit, it is important to continue to maintain close ties to the U.S., such as maintaining active bank accounts, filing taxes, maintaining residence if possible and other similar ties to U.S. Therefore individuals who intend to spend a significant amount of time outside the U.S. should seriously consider applying for their re-entry permits; otherwise they risk losing their permanent resident status.
Q : I currently have a re-entry permit that was issued for two years. I need to spend additional time in India, because I need to continue to pursue my higher education. Is it possible for me to re-apply for another re-entry permit?
A: There is no limit on the number of times you can apply. The fact that you have a specific purpose for the extensions is helpful. I have many clients that are studying abroad and have renewed their re-entry permits upto three times without any problems. You just need to be mindful of timing. You need to be physically present in the US at the time of filing and preferably until the time that your biometrics are scheduled, which can be expedited.
Immigration and business attorney Indu Liladhar-Hathi has an office in San Jose. (408) 453-5335.