Form I-131 FAQs

Unless the context shows otherwise, all answers here were provided by Rajiv and were compiled and reported by our editorial team from comments and blog on immigration.com

International Travel as a Permanent Resident

Authored on: Wed, 03/07/2018 - 01:34

Question

1. What documents do I need to travel outside the United States?<br>
2. What documents do I need to present to reenter the United States?<br>
3. Does travel outside the United States affect my permanent resident status?<br>
4. What if my trip abroad will last longer than 1 year?<br>
5. What if I lose my green card or reentry permit or it is stolen or destroyed while I am temporarily traveling outside of the United States?

Answer

1. In general, you will need to present a passport from your country of citizenship or your refugee travel document to travel to a foreign country.  In addition, the foreign country may have additional entry/exit requirements (such as a visa).  For information on foreign entry and exit requirements, see the Department of State’s webpage.


2. If seeking to enter the United States after temporary travel abroad, you will need to present a valid, unexpired “green card” (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card). When arriving at a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will review your permanent resident card and any other identity documents you present, such as a passport, foreign national I.D. card or U.S. Driver’s License, and determine if you can enter the United States.  For information pertaining to entry into the United States, see U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s webpage.


3. Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status.  A general guide used is whether you have been absent from the United States for more than a year. Abandonment may be found to occur in trips of less than a year where it is believed you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence.  While brief trips abroad generally are not problematic, the officer may consider criteria such as whether your intention was to visit abroad only temporarily, whether you maintained U.S. family and community ties, maintained U.S employment, filed U.S. income taxes as a resident, or otherwise established your intention to return to the United States as your permanent home. Other factors that may be considered include whether you maintained a U.S. mailing address, kept U.S. bank accounts and a valid U.S. driver’s license, own property or run a business in the United States, or any other evidence that supports the temporary nature of your absence.


4. If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, it is advisable to first apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131. Obtaining a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.  Please note that it does not guarantee entry into the United States upon your return as you must first be determined to be admissible; however, it will assist you in establishing your intention to permanently reside in the United States.  For more information, see the “Travel Documents” page. 

If you remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years, any reentry permit granted before your departure from the United States will have expired. In this case, it is advisable to consider applying for a returning resident visa (SB-1) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. An SB-1 applicant will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and will need a medical exam.  There is an exception to this process for the spouse or child of either a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders.  For more information on obtaining a returning resident visa, see the Department of State’s webpage on returning resident visas.

Additionally, absences from the United States of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency required for naturalization.  If your absence is one year or longer and you wish to preserve your continuous residency in the United States for naturalization purposes, you may file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes on Form N-470. For more information, please see the “Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements” page.

 

5. If you lose your green card or reentry permit or it is stolen or destroyed while you are abroad, you may need to file a Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation).  This carrier documentation will allow an airline or other transportation carrier to board a lawful permanent resident bound for the United States without the carrier being penalized.  For more information, please see the Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation) page.

Naturalized Citizen Sponsoring Parents

Authored on: Tue, 09/17/2013 - 01:42

Question

I am a brand new citizen and I am filing papers to bring my parents from England to NY to live with my husband and our four children. As I understand it once they get their interview and medical stuff out of the way, and get their visas do they enter as Legal Permanent residences?

Answer

They will enter the USA as permanent residents. The duration of the immigrant visa is stated on the visa stamp (I think it will be 6 months) and they must enter the USA within that time. They can come and leave after they get their green card in the USA. Read the instructions on the Form I-131 for reentry permit if they expect to be gone for 6 months or more.

Process After Getting Immigrant Visa

Authored on: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 04:27

Question

My mother is currently in the US. She entered based on the Immigration Visa on her passport and gave the sealed packet at the port of entry. We went to to the SSN office but were told that we need to wait for the SSN to come (via mail? - they had no clue). She wants to leave in the next few weeks. Questions:
1. Can she reenter without a physical GC in hand? She was told it takes 6-8 months to come at port of entry.
2. How do we get her SSN? Is it mailed automatically?
3. What else should I be aware of before she leaves the US?

Answer

Make an infopass appointment and get her passport stamped for temporary proof of green card. She can travel with that. Normally, the physical GC takes just a few weeks. I am not concerned about SSN. That will arrive eventually. But do review my blog videos about I-131 and maintaining green card, etc.

Expedited Advanced Parole

Authored on: Sun, 11/11/2012 - 23:34

Question

An applicant whose Form I-131 is filed and currently pending at a USCIS Service Center may go to a local office to apply for an expedited Advance Parole in case of an emergency. Have there been any changes to the process in which the applicant presents a copy of the receipts for the I-131 (and the underlying applications), documentation proving the emergency, filing fee, and two photos?

Answer

There has been no change to this policy.  USCIS requires documentary evidence of the emergent situation, as well as supporting documentation indicating that the applicant has a pending application.

Reentry application and biometrics

Authored on: Tue, 11/01/2011 - 05:24

Question

I just sent my I-131 application (for reentry permit) via overnight delivery, but turns out that I need to briefly go abroad starting this Friday for a work emergency. The official Notice of Action (I-797c) would probably arrive at my house while I am still overseas. My question is, will the application be denied if I leave the country before receiving the Notice of Action? (I'm afraid that USCIS would assume that I've abandoned the application by leaving the country.) I should be back in the USA for the biometric appointment.

Answer

As I recall, as long as the application has been physically received by USCIS, your departure does not cause abandonment. So, you should not have to worry. But you will need to be back for biometrics associated with the I-131.