If you are an immigrant living in Kentucky and are working toward legal citizenship, you may fall under the category of a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Many would-be citizens have this status so they can live and work in the States as they wait for citizenship. If you plan to return to your homeland for an extended period of time, having a reentry permit ensures you can return to the U.S. without losing your status as a permanent resident.
According to the federal Citizen and Immigration Services, if you are a permanent resident and set up house outside the U.S., your resident status may be considered abandoned. If you are gone for a year or more, your permanent resident card becomes invalid. By obtaining a reentry permit before you leave, you are confirming your plans to return and that your absence should not be considered abandonment.
If you are going to be out of the country less than a year, your permanent resident card serves as your travel document; you do not need a reentry permit in that case. If you already have a reentry permit, you do not need to file for a new one with each trip, but be sure to note the expiration date of that permit and travel within its timeframe.
A permit allows you to apply for reentry for up to two years before it expires. It takes the place of a returning resident visa, and absolves you from having to obtain a visa from your homeland as well. A U.S. reentry permit is widely accepted across the world as a passport. However, it is best to check with each country you plan to visit ahead of time for specific requirements.
You should submit a permit application at least 60 days before traveling because you cannot file the application, Form I-131, from outside the U.S. This is due to the need to obtain your biometrics before you leave. Biometrics are your unique traits, physical and biological, that identify you.
When you apply for a reentry permit, you will be notified to appear at a specific support center to be electronically scanned and recorded. Once you have submitted your biometrics, you do not need to hang around and wait for the permit before leaving. Simply have it forwarded to a U.S. Embassy or consulate overseas.
Immigration laws are complicated, and each case is unique. You may find it helpful to consult an attorney in immigration matters. This is general information and should not be considered legal advice.