Generally, a U.S. permanent resident may not leave the U.S. for more than one year at a
time. Doing so triggers the presumption that he or she has abandoned his or her
permanent residence in the U.S.
A permanent resident who needs to stay outside the U.S. for more than one year and who
does not want to be considered as having abandoned his or her green card may file an
application for a reentry permit. This document allows a permanent resident to remain
outside the U.S. for more than one year without being presumed to have abandoned his or
her green card. The applicant must file Form I-131 with the U.S. Citizenship &
Immigration Services (USCIS) while physically present in the U.S. There is also a
biometrics requirement for applicants between the ages of 14 and 79. Applicants must be
in the U.S. to have their biometrics taken. USCIS has stated that it may deny reentry
permit applications for those applicants who leave the U.S. after submitting their
applications but prior to receiving their biometrics. If a permanent resident remains
outside the U.S. for the duration of the reentry permit, that time spent outside the U.S.
does not count toward the required period of continuous residence for U.S. citizenship
(five years or three years if married to a U.S. citizen). The maximum initial duration of a
reentry permit is two years. Reentry permits may be extended in two year increments for
a maximum duration of six years, however the applicant must provide USCIS with a
reason for the request for the reentry permit. In addition, the applicant must continue to
maintain ties to the U.S. during the time spent abroad.