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My wife just received notice of action that request for conditional basis of permanent resident status has been approved. The new permanent resident card Form I-551 green card will be mailed within 60 days. Her current card is expired.

Our problem is that we have a trip booked to the Dominican Republic and can't find a way to get her back in country if we go. We're going to lose $700 in cancellation fees, so we're trying to find a workaround. Our local USCIS has no appointments available so we can't get a stamp on her passport, which would have helped us.

I'm wondering if it's possible to get some kind of USA visa (maybe visitor) or is there some other way to make this work? All suggestions are very appreciated. She has a Thai passport and aas been living in the US for over three years now.

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You don't need a reentry permit; you might need a transportation letter. Or you might be able to fly with the expired green card.

See https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/form-i-131a-now-available:

LPRs with Expired Green Cards

LPRs with expired Green Cards may not need to file Form I-131A. We encourage LPRs to check with their airline or vessel before determining whether to file Form I-131A.

Although regulations generally require an LPR to travel with a valid Green Card, CBP policy permits a transportation carrier bound for the United States to board an LPR without carrier documentation if:

  • They have an expired Green Card that was issued with a 10-year expiration date, or

  • They have an expired Green Card with a 2-year expiration date AND a Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that they have filed a Form I-751 or Form I-829 to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status. The Notice of Action extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time, generally one year.

If you do need a transportation letter, the filing fee is $575.

  • This is great info, thank you. I will contact the carrier and hope for best! – Rocket Sk8s Mar 28 '18 at 15:14
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When she applied for I-751 Removal of Conditions, she received a I-751 receipt that also serves as a 1-year extension letter, such that her expired green card plus this extension letter serves as proof of permanent residence for 1 year after the green card expired. If it will still be within 1 year of her previous green card expiring when she returns, she can still use this extension letter plus her green card to return to the US.

But if it's beyond the 1 year (which is quite possible since Removal of Conditions often takes around a year these days), that's no use. In that case, the proper way, as you already know, is to get an I-551 stamp at a local USCIS office, but unfortunately those appointments are always completely taken. Make sure to check back frequently in case one opens up, and check other USCIS local offices that are close to your area too.

If she does go on the trip abroad without proof of permanent residency, and nobody is able to mail the card to her when it is received in the US (either it doesn't come in time for her to come back, or there's nobody to check her mail), she will still be a permanent resident, just with no proof of it to allow an airline to board her. In that case, she would have to file I-131A and get a transportation letter from the US consulate (same thing she would do if she lost her green card while abroad) to allow an airline to board her. Unfortunately, this is quite expensive ($575) and I am not sure you guys would like to take time out of your trip to do this.

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The document you are looking for is the I-327 Re-entry Permit. This passport-replacing travel document allows you to return to the United States and also indicates that you do not intend to abandon permanent resident status if you leave the US for up to two years.

In addition, this document allows visa-free travel to some countries and you can apply for visas to most countries with this travel document.

You apply for this document by filing form I-131 and paying the $575 application fee and $85 biometrics fee. But note that it may take several months to process the application, so it is unlikely to help you with this particular trip.

For the moment I would recommend that you check your case status at USCIS. When the card is mailed, tracking information should be available there.

  • Well, someone didn't like it, though I have no idea why. – Michael Hampton Mar 28 '18 at 16:06
  • @MichaelHampton I suspect the reason for the downvote is that the I-327 is not the usual document for this situation. It is intended for permanent residents who intend to leave the US for longer than 1 year without abandoning their permanent resident status. – phoog Apr 4 '18 at 14:44

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