Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who often travel between China and the United States have often been scrutinized by U.S. customs officers when enter the United States recently, questioning whether they violated the U.S. green card rules since they may not stay in the U.S. as required. Many LPRs have even been taken in a small dark room and questioned for hours before being released. Some of LPRs' passports were also handwritten by the officers with "I-327 Advised" or "Out XX Months."


What is I-327 (Re-entry Permit)?

I-327 is the USCIS official ID number of Re-entry Permit. It's a small, passport-sized book with photos of green card holders. This small book, commonly known as the Re-entry Permit, is a legal document that guarantees the LPRs can be returned to the United States. Thus, some people call it a "leave permit" to make it easy to understand. The Re-entry Permit is a legal document that can prove the LPRs do not intend to give up the United States green cards. It generally allows LPRs to re-enter the United States without having to apply for another immigrant visa or a non-immigrant visa within two (2) years of leaving America, counting from the date of issuance.

What is the difference between Advance Parole and Re-entry Permit?


Advance Parole is issued to foreigners who do not have permanent resident status in the United States and do not have valid immigration or non-immigrant visas to re-enter the United States after they leave. Such foreigners must apply for Advance Parole before leaving. If they do not get Advance Parole before leaving, they will not be allowed to re-enter the country when they arrive.

The Re-entry Permit is issued to Permanent Resident and Conditional Residents. The Re-entry Permit can be applied to:

1. Legal permanent residents or Conditional Residents who want to stay outside the United States for more than one year.

2. Legal permanent residents or Conditional Residents who want to leave the country but cannot obtain a passport from the country of their nationality.


On the surface, Advance Parole looks like a piece of paper with photos of foreigners, while the Re-entry Permit looks like a passport. Advance Parole serves as a visa to the United States, while the Re-entry Permit is more like a passport. In other words, foreigners holding Advance Parole still need to have a legal and valid foreign passport to enter the United States, while permanent residents with the Re-entry Permit will not need a foreign passport to return.

Valid Period

The valid period of the Advance Parole is generally one year, while the Re-entry Permit is two years.


What types of problems can be solved mainly by the Re-entry Permit?

The Re-entry Permit can mainly prevent the following two situations:

If LPRs stay or live for more than one year outside the United States (such as China), the LPRs' Green Card has not been legally valid due to expiry;

If LPRs stay or live more than six months outside the United States, and the place is the resident country of the LPRs, the LPRs will be considered as abandoning their green card status even they leave the state less than a year.

Therefore, after leaving the United States for a period, LRPs holding the Re-entry Permit can return to America without re-apply for a new visa.


When to apply for Re-entry Permit?

In general, applicants are required to submit an I-131 Application (Application for Travel Document) to the USCIS in advance before they intend to leave the United States. If the applicants themselves have left the United States, his / her I-131 Application will be rejected by the USCIS. Because according to the provisions of the I-131 form, the form is submitted on the premise that the applicant is in the United States when the form is submitted.

If the applicant does not get a Re-entry Permit before leaving the United States, he or she must hold another valid visa to return to the United States again.


How to apply for the Re-entry Permit?

Documents and information required to apply for Re-entry Permit:

1.   I-131 form (with name signed) and delivery fee;

2.     Two passport photos;

3.     Passport home page and stamped page;

4.   Two sides of the green card;

5.   Two sides of the driving license;

6.   Application letter for the reasons for asking for leave;

7.   The telephone number of evidence supporting the excuse for a leave.


According to USCIS official website, it is necessary to reserve a minimum of 60 days for the application of the Re-entry Permit. This is because the applicant will take one or two weeks before receiving the Receipt from USCIS. It usually takes about three weeks to get the notice of fingerprints. It will be some time before received the fingerprints notification. It's usually two to three weeks after receiving the fingerprint notification. So it will take about two to three months by roughly estimating. But because of Trump immigration policy, the time has been extended from 3 months to about 6 months which is twice the former one.


What are the common reasons for asking for a leave?

The reasons and examples for applying for the Re-entry Permit are as follows:

1.   Work in foreign countries, especially for American overseas enterprises;

2.   For physical reasons, they need to be treated abroad for a long time.

3.   They need to take care of their loved ones for a long time, such as their elderly parents.

4.   They need to study abroad for a long time, for example, for a degree at a university in China.


Does it require an interview to apply for the Re-entry Permit?

Generally speaking, an application for the Re-entry Permit does not require an interview, but the immigration office has the right to do so.

After reviewing the application materials submitted by the applicant, if the final approval is issued, USCIS will deliver the Re-entry Permit to the applicant or his attorney. Therefore, it is essential to provide a correct address for the receipt. Since the United States tightened its policies on national security after 9/11, some USCIS offices have changed the general procedure for reviewing applications for Re-entry Permit and require applicants to go to the local USCIS office for a Re-entry Permit.


Can I print fingerprints overseas or in other parts of the U.S. by submitting an application form in the United States?

In general, you cannot fingerprint overseas. USCIS stipulates that applicants must fingerprint at the time and place (ASC, fingerprint collection center designated by USCIS) from the fingerprinting letter. If you do not fingerprint by the time, you need to defer fingerprinting time. However, if the applicant has been overseas without fingerprinting, his I-131 application for the Re-entry Permit will be rejected by USCIS.


If the applicant is in other parts of the U.S. outside the application area when he/she receives a fingerprinting letter, officers sometimes will allow fingerprinting elsewhere other than places designated by the ASC's if the applicant is lucky.

After I received the receipt of the I-131, left the United States before I received a fingerprint notice, can I go back to the United States?

Yes. According to the current experience, applicants can leave the United States after receiving the notification that USCIS has received the I-131 application and they already have a receipt number. After receiving the fingerprinting notification, then they return to the United States to fingerprint.


When you get fingerprints notification, can I go to the local ASC for fingerprinting in advance?

Possible. If there is something urgent that you need to leave the United States, you can go to ASC in advance to ask for fingerprints before receiving the fingerprints notification. It depends on your luck, some ASC will allow while some may not.


Lawyer Pang generally advises, if possible, to bring a ticket of leaving the United States. In this way, in general, ASC staff will treat with special treatments by allowing early fingerprinting.


What is a valid period of the Petition of the Re-entry Permit?

In general, the validity for a Re-entry Permit is two years from the date of issue.

However, a common exception is that if the LPRs hold a conditional green card, the validity of a Re-entry Permit is until the expiration date of the conditional green card instead of two years. The two common conditional green cards are: a conditional green card for marriage and a conditional green card for investment immigrants. That is, conditional green card for a marriage holder may apply for a Re-entry Permit for a special reason before submitting (I-751) removal conditions or a conditional green card for investment immigrants may apply for a Re-entry Permit for a particular reason before submitting (I-829).


Can it be extended after the Re-entry Permit expires?

There is no extension of the period for a Re-entry Permit. If the original Re-entry Permit is expired, individuals must reapply for a new Re-entry Permit. This is a whole new process, and USCIS will make a new and independent judgment on the application.


Many people are telling that it is impossible for us to be approved more than two times. In fact, at present, USCIS does not have a clear regulation on the issue. Among cases of Pang lawyer's application for the Re-entry Permit, some are approved for more than three times. For example, a client was appointed to its wholly owned subsidiary in Shanghai by a large American company as a senior executive. Lawyer Pang has managed to apply for her four Re-entry Permits so that she can work and live in China for a long time. Of course, every time a new application is made, we provide, whenever possible, more supporting evidence than the last application to prove why a green card holder needs a long time off.


The Re-entry Permit is still valid, can I apply for another in advance?

Theoretically speaking, one person can only have one Re-entry Permit within the validity period. So, if the LPRs expire a long time before your application of the Re-entry Permit, the application may be rejected. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, the Re-entry Permit is stolen or accidentally damaged. In this case, USCIS will approve the new application for the Re-entry Permit, even if the original one is still valid. However, it is safer to make it clear in the I-131 application form that this application is under an exceptional case.