Green Card holders who left the United States for more than 1 year during the Covid pandemic may be required to apply for permission to return. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs – Green Card holders) should apply for a return permit before leaving the U.S. for more than a year to preserve his or her residency. If they don’t apply for a return permit, immigration authorities may conclude that PRs have abandoned their permanent residency and they could potentially lose their Green Card.
Many Green Card holders left the country temporarily to care for family members, for work or for other personal reasons and they were not able to travel back to the United States due to pandemic closures and restrictions. Customs and Border Protection officers have the discretion to put a returning Green Card holder in deportation proceedings if they have abandoned their residency, but officers are taking the pandemic restrictions into account when evaluating each case.
Current U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations permit Green Card holders to leave and return to the United States multiple times per year:
If you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you may leave the U.S. multiple times and reenter, as long as you do not intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more.
If you intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more, you must apply for a re-entry permit with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) prior to leaving the U.S.
Chicago immigration lawyer Mario Godoy advises,
“If you are challenged by a CBP officer upon returning to the United States you should insist on seeing an immigration judge or speaking to an immigration attorney prior to signing any form I-407 record of abandonment of your legal permanent residency.”
A Green Card is a document to help you prove you are a legal permanent resident and also serves as a travel document that allows you to enter in and out of the United States. If your Green Card has expired, it may be difficult to travel. Most Green Cards are valid for 10 years and you should file for renewal 6 months before it expires.
United States immigration laws are complicated and updated frequently. Mistakes in immigration applications can be costly and stressful and can result in denial of your petition or delays. An experienced immigration attorney at Godoy Law Office in Cook and Dupage Counties, Illinois, can review your Green Card eligibility and application or renewal. We review your situation, provide you with the proper forms and help you submit your application. Contact our office or call us at 630-912-0322.