What is the purpose of a Re-entry Permit?
The general purpose of a Re-entry Permit is to allow green card holders, who have left the U.S. for more than one year, but for less than two years, back into the United States. Permanent residents who leave for less than one year can generally re-enter the U.S. through the use of their “green card” plus their passport. However, permanent residents who remain outside the U.S. for more than one year CANNOT use their “green card” for this purpose. Consequently, they must obtain a Re-entry Permit IN ADVANCE, PRIOR TO LEAVING THE U.S.
Those green card holders who remain outside the U.S. for more than two years must obtain a “special immigrant” visa at a U.S. consulate abroad, in order to re-entry the U.S.
A Re-entry Permit also creates a presumption that the green card holder did not abandon his or her intent to remain permanently in the U.S. because the law states that “A permanent resident or conditional permanent resident in possession of a valid reentry permit who is otherwise admissible shall not be deemed to have abandoned status based solely on the duration of an absence or absences while the permit is valid.”
Re-entry Permits are also sometimes used by “stateless” permanent residents in lieu of a passport to enter some countries. This is because some countries view Re-entry Permits as evidence that the U.S. will accept the “stateless” permanent resident back into the U.S. However, if you are in this category, be sure to check with the consulate for the particular foreign country to make sure that they will accept a Re-entry Permit for this purpose.
Does a Re-entry Permit prevent the breaking of continuity of residence in the U.S. for purposes of naturalization?
Generally no: a permit to-reenter does not relieve the person to whom issued from meeting the requirements of the naturalization laws.
Notwithstanding the possession of a reentry permit, absence from the United States by an applicant for naturalization for a continuous period of one year or more during the period for which continuous residence in the United States is required for admission to citizenship will break the continuity of such residence, except where, the applicant meets other exceptions.