What is a re-entry permit and why would I need one?

USCIS allows lawful permanent residents to leave the United States under certain conditions. However, if an LPR leaves for more then one year, their LPR card may be deemed invalid. A reentry permit demonstrates to USCIS that the LPR did not intend to abandon their status and will allow for the person to reenter the United States without having to obtain a visa. The reentry permit is only necessary for trips of longer than one year.

You must apply for the reentry permit before you leave the United States. You must be undergo biometrics (fingerprinting) in the United States before you leave the United States. You do not have to stay in the United States once your biometrics have been obtained. In such a situation, you should note on your application for reentry permit (I-131) that you want the permit sent to the consulate in the country which you will be visiting.

If you have left the United States and been gone for more than one year and if you never obtained a reentry permit, you may need to apply for a returning resident visa in order to be able to come back to the United States. However, you must show that your long stay outside the United States was outside of your control.

Obtaining a reentry permit can be tricky. If you need assistance in obtaining a reentry permit, please contact St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking at 314-961-8200 or by using our web contact form.

What are some common grounds for inadmissibility? Will the Department of Homeland Security ever allow for a waiver of any grounds of inadmissibility?

At the Hacking Immigration Law, we see several common grounds for inadmissibility. We address the most frequently seen inadmissibility grounds at our Missouri immigration firm and the chances for waiver below.


If you have tried to obtain a visa, another immigration related document, or gain admission into the United States by fraud or by lying about a material fact, you are inadmissible for life. For this particular inadmissibility ground, there is a waiver available for noncitizens if they can prove that the inadmissibility results in extreme hardship to their United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse or parent.

Another form of fraud that is dealt with separately is falsely claiming citizenship. False claiming citizenship can take a number of forms, including voting and getting any benefit related to citizenship. A false claim of citizenship also carries a lifetime bar. However, for certain unlawful voters, there may be a waiver available if the noncitizen lived in the US permanently prior to the age of sixteen and reasonably believed that he or she was a citizen.

Unlawful Presence

Unlawful presence is another common inadmissibility ground. A noncitizen is unlawfully present if they entered the United States without being admitted or at a location that was not designated for entrance. A noncitizen can also be unlawfully present if they stay in the country after the expiration of their temporary visa. If a noncitizen is unlawfully present for less than 180 days, there is no inadmissibility bar. However, if a noncitizen is unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than one year, they are inadmissible for three years. Additionally, if a noncitizen is unlawfully present for more than one year, they are inadmissible for ten years.

For the unlawful presence bars, time does not begin to count until a noncitizen is over the age of eighteen. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes a waiver of these inadmissibility bars if a noncitizen can show that the inadmissibility would producean extreme hardship to a US citizen or LPR spouse, son or daughter.

Removal Proceedings

There are several inadmissibility bars that can result from removal proceedings. Failure to attend removal proceedings generally results in a five-year bar. Being ordered removed upon arrival (expedited removal) gets a five-year bar. Receiving a removal order at the end of deportation proceedings is a ten-year bar (you may face an additional bar depending upon what you are being deported for).

If you have been removed from the United States and you attempt to return unlawfully before your inadmissibility period is over, you will be barred for an additional ten years. If you leave the United States after receiving a Notice to Appear (NTA) and do not appear at the scheduled hearing, you are barred from entry for ten years. If you are removed from the United States more than once, you are barred from entry for twenty years. There is only one permanent waiver for the inadmissibility bars related to removal proceedings: noncitizens who have been removed from the United States can apply for a discretionary waiver from the Attorney General, which, if granted, will allow them to reapply for entrance into the United States. There is also a waiver for temporary entrance as a nonimmigrant but it is also discretionary.

Criminal Inadmissibility

Criminal inadmissibility grounds are among the most common and have the fewest waivers. Any noncitizen that has committed a crime involving moral turpitude (in any country) is inadmissible. There is an exception for noncitizens that committed the crime when they were under the age of 18 if the maximum penalty for the crime was less than one year of imprisonment and the sentence was finished more than five years before the visa application.

Also, any noncitizen with multiple criminal convictions for which the aggregate sentences have been more than five years is inadmissible. Any noncitizen that has violated a drug law of the United States, a US state or a foreign country is inadmissible. There is an exception for this inadmissibility bar if the violation was fifteen years in the past, admission of the noncitizen is not contrary to the national welfare and the noncitizen has been rehabilitated. Also, the violation can be waived immediately (subject to certain security restrictions) if the noncitizen can show extreme hardship to a US citizen or LPR spouse, parent, son, or daughter. The Attorney General also has the discretion to waive any of these inadmissibility bars for temporary, nonimmigrant visas.

What are the USCIS requirements for passport-type photos?

We are frequently asked about the passport-type photos that are submitted to USCIS in virtually all types of applications – asylum, citizenship, visas and green cards. Here are some photo tips:

  • Two photos are needed
  • The photos should be glossy and in color
  • The background should be plain white
  • The person should be looking straight into the camera
  • The photo must have been taken in the previous 30 days
  • USCIS likes for the photo to have 1 inche from the bottom of the chin to the top of the hair

When submitting the photos to USCIS, you should write the name and alien number of the person appearing in the photograph on the back. If you need help with submitting photos or other documents to USCIS, contact Missouri and Illinois immigration attorney Jim Hacking. We will be happy to help.

When can the spouse of a U.S. citizen apply for citizenship themselves?

Question: How soon after receiving your green card are you able to apply for citizenship? I am a lawful permanent resident and have been married to a U.S. citizen about a year and a half ago.

Answer: In order to apply for citizenship, you have to be a lawful permanent resident for 5 years. You can apply 3 months early, so add 4 years and 9 months to the date that you received your green card.

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, however, you can apply after (1) you have had your green card for 3 years and (2) you have been married to a US citizen for 3 years. Once both of those things are true, you can apply for naturalization. You don’t want to apply early or your application will be denied and you will lose your filing fee.
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