Document Requirements for LPRs and Limited Waiver For Children of LPR Born Abroad

Lawful permanent resident parent, 8 CFR 211.1(a),



Federal regulations at 8 CFR 211.1(a) list the documents required for an arriving alien seeking admission as a lawful permanent resident or a lawful permanent resident returning to an unrelinquished lawful permanent residence in the United States. In limited cases, the parent of a child born abroad after (A) a child born subsequent to the issuance of a permanent visa to his or her accompanying parent; or (B) during the temporary visit abroad of an accompanying lawful permanent resident or noncitizen national may be admitted with the presentation of the child's birth certificate instead of one of the documents ordinarily required in 8 CFR 211.1(a). This waiver exists largely to cover cases wherein a child is born abroad to a lawful permanent resident parent. Below, we explain the document requirements of 8 CFR 211.1(a), the limited waiver for certain children in 8 CFR 211.1(b)(1), and the general “good cause” waiver for permanent residents set forth in 8 CFR 211.1(b)(3).

Document requirements in 8 CFR 211.1(a)

The regulation at 8 CFR 211.1(a) applies to:

Arriving aliens applying for admission into the United States for lawful permanent residence (or boarding the vessel or aircraft on which he or she arrives); and
Lawful permanent residents returning to an unrelinquished lawful permanent residence in the United States…

These individuals are ordinarily required to present one of the following documents in order to be admitted as lawful permanent residents or allowed entry:

1. A valid, unexpired immigrant visa;
2. A valid, unexpired Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, if seeking readmission after a temporary absence of less than 1 year, or in the case of a crewmember regularly serving on board a vessel or aircraft of United States registry seeking readmission after any temporary absence connected with his or her duties as a crewman;
3. A valid, unexpired Form I-327, Permit to Reenter the United States;
4. A valid, unexpired Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document, properly endorsed to reflect admission as a lawful permanent resident;
5. An expired Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, accompanied by a filing receipt issued within the previous 6 months for either a Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, if seeking admission or readmission after a temporary absence of less than 1 year;
6. A Form I-551, whether or not expired, presented by a civilian or military employee of the United States Government who was outside the United States pursuant to official orders, or by the spouse or child of such employee who resided abroad while the employee or serviceperson was on overseas duty and who is preceding, accompanying or following to join within 4 months the employee, returning to the United States; or
7. Form I-551, whether or not expired, or a transportation letter issued by an American consular officer, presented by an employee of the American University of Beirut, who was so employed immediately preceding travel to the United States, returning temporarily to the United States before resuming employment with the American University of Beirut, or resuming permanent residence in the United States.

These requirements apply to almost all cases. However, as we detail below, there are limited exceptions for certain cases specified in the regulation. Persons other than parents acting on behalf of children described in 8 CFR 211.1(b)(1) (see below) should assume that they will need to satisfy the requirements of 8 CFR 211.1(a). However, we do briefly note a special circumstances waiver available in 8 CFR 211.1(b)(3), which is generally for cases in which the permanent resident lost his or her permanent resident card.

8 CFR 211.1(b)(1) waiver for certain children of LPRs

8 CFR 211.1(b)(1) provides for a waiver of the document requirements of 8 CFR 211.1(a), described above, for:

[A] child born subsequent to the issuance of an immigrant visa to his or her accompanying parent who applies during the validity of such a visa; or
[A] child born during the temporary visit abroad of a mother who is a lawful permanent resident alien, or a national, of the United States…

Even if a child meets one of the above descriptions, the following must be true for an exception to 8 CFR 211.1(a) to apply:

[T]he child's application for admission to the United States is made within 2 years of birth,
the child is accompanied by the parent who is applying for readmission as a permanent resident upon the first return of the parent to the United States after the birth of the child, and
the accompanying parent is found to be admissible to the United States.

Assuming all of the requirements are met, the parent needs to only present the child's birth certificate in order for the child to be allowed in without satisfying the document requirements set forth in 8 CFR 211.1(a). 8 CFR 211.1(b)(1) makes clear that the waiver applies without fee.

The U.S. Embassy in Japan provided useful information for parents about how to prepare to board a flight with a child who needs an 8 CFR 211.1(b)(1) waiver [see guidance]. The Embassy recommends that the parent should have the following: (1) A valid passport or travel document for the child, if available; (2) The child's birth certificate listing both the mother and father with an English translation if the birth certificate is not in English; and (3) Proof of the parent's permanent resident status.

Other Notes

If a child is admitted under the waiver provision of 8 CFR 211.1(b), the child's entry will be recorded on the Form I-181, Memorandum of Creation of Record of Admission for Lawful Permanent Residence (see 8 CFR 211.1(b)(2)). The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will stamp the child's passport “temporary I-551.” The CBP will then submit the Form I-181, Form I-89, and a copy of the child's birth certificate to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) so that it may produce a Form I-551 (“green card”) on behalf of the child. CBP advises that the Form I-551 should arrive within 30 days, and that the parent should make an Infopass appointment with USCIS if the card has not appeared by that time [see CBP question and answer].

Good cause exception to 8 CFR 211.1(a)

There is a limited “good cause” exception for lawful permanent residents seeking to return to an unrelinquished lawful permanent residence in the United States after a temporary absence abroad. This exception is detailed in 8 CFR 211.1(b)(3). If the permanent resident believes that he or she has good cause for the failure to satisfy the document requirements set forth in 8 CFR 211.1(a), he or she “may file an application for a waiver of this requirement with the DHS officer with jurisdiction over the port of entry where the alien arrives.” The alien must file the designated form with fee, both of which are provided for in 8 CFR 106.2. However, if the alien's permanent resident card (“green card”) was lost or stolen and the permanent resident was absent for less than one year, he or she must generally apply for a replacement green card instead of a waiver. In this case, the replacement green card application will also function as a waiver application. Upon receiving the waiver application or reviewing the application for a replacement permanent resident card, the Department of Homeland Security may exercise favorable discretion to waive the requirements of 8 CFR 211.1(a) for that particular alien.

Related: For information on situations where there may be questions, due to the duration of a trip abroad, whether the permanent resident abandoned his permanent resident status, see our posts on when LPRs are applicants for admission [see article], DOS rules on abandonment [see article], and case-law on abandonment [see article].

General guidance

In the ordinary case, an individual described by 8 CFR 211.1(a) should assume that he or she will be required to produce a document required by the regulation. In an emergency case, especially where a green card has been lost or stolen, a waiver application or green card replacement application may be required. The first step in case of emergency abroad should be to seek guidance from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. In more complicated cases, the individual may consult with an experienced immigration attorney if he or she needs additional, case-specific guidance.

Parents seeking to rely on the 8 CFR 211.1(b)(1) exception for children should ensure that they fully understand whether their particular circumstance falls within the scope of the limited waiver, which generally exists to ease burdens on permanent resident parents of children born abroad. For example, it is important to note that the exception only lasts for two years from the date of the child's birth, and the child must be accompanied by a lawful permanent resident parent. If more than two years elapse, or if the child is returning with a parent who is neither a lawful permanent resident nor noncitizen national, the ordinary requirements of 8 CFR 211.1(a) will apply to the child. Moreover, parents should bear in mind that it is a one-time exception for the first return trip from abroad. Subsequent departures and returns will require the parents to ensure that they can satisfy 8 CFR 211.1(a) on behalf of the child, or otherwise apply for a waiver under 8 CFR 211.1(b)(3).

Related: The issues discussed in this article concern permanent resident children of permanent resident parents. In a separate post, we explain how a child may derive U.S. citizenship after birth [see article], including through the naturalization of a parent.