There are many a times when we are required to take a quick trip outside the United States for personal or emergency reasons. It is of great importance that all our paperwork related to our travel is in place. This way we will not face any trouble while coming back in. Let’s now check what needs to be done to ensure an exit and safe return to the United States.
If you plan to take a trip outside the United States of America for more than year but less than two years in duration, then a re-entry permit will be required for getting readmitted. To apply for a re-entry permit you should file Form I 131.
Form I 131 can be used by those people who are green card holders. The form I 131 is primarily used by permanent residents who are required to be in the U.S. when filing it and must appear for the bio-metric appointment before they can embark on their trip.
The form I 131 is used to request for a travel document. The application for advance parole may be filed concurrently with the form I 485. The application for advance parole may also be filed at a time when the form I 485 is pending. The application for advance parole can be filed at the same service center as the form I 485. As a general rule, applicants who have lived in the U.S for more than 180 days without legal status cannot apply for Advance Parole as they will be ineligible to reenter the United States for either three or ten years even with an Advance Parole Document.
It is best if the applicant waits till his form I 131 application is approved before departing the United States of America. The processing time may vary but it generally ranges from three to six months. The travel document filed with Form I 131 is valid for one year and can be renewed.
The Form I 131 can also be prepared to apply for a refugee travel document. This application should be made in the United States. However, if you are a refugee, you can depart the U.S before the application is approved and may pick up the travel document at a United States Consulate or DHS office overseas. As an alternative, the applicant can also remain in the United States till the application is approved and then pick the travel document from a consulate or DHS office overseas. The processing time for a refugee travel document varies but it generally ranges from three to six months and is valid for one year. To qualify for an a Refugee Travel Document the applicant must be holding a refugee or asylee status and the general rule is that the applicant cannot file for a refugee travel document to travel to a country were he might fear persecution.
The re-entry permits are generally valid for two years and are not renewable. However the applicant may return to the United States to file for another permit. The general thumb rule is that the green card holder can spend almost six years outside the United States and retain a re-entry permit. Longer absence would require an application for Special Immigrant.