Recently, mostly due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other personal reasons; many non-U.S. citizens holding Green Cards stayed outside the U.S. longer than the 1 year allowed period. Upon entry to U.S. at airports or other ports of entry, these Green Card holders faced serious difficulties, some resulting in losing their Green Cards or even deportation. General rules for governing these cases include:
- A legal permanent resident should not stay out of the country for more than one year as they risk losing their U.S. residency.
- Based on extraordinary circumstances a U.S. Consulate officer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, or an Immigration judge can use discretion and choose not to revoke Green Card holder’s residency and permit them to enter U.S. and/or stay as a resident.
- COVID can be considered an extraordinary situation, but it could be decided otherwise based on the totality of circumstances.
- If someone stays outside of the United States longer than 1 year, at the port of entry an officer can give them an entry permit, an option to relinquish their residency, or refer them to immigration court (that process may take up to 1 year.)
- Staying longer than 6 months abroad can have consequences on applications of Citizenship even though applicant kept residency and was present in the U.S.
To find out more information, visit USCIS news for more details. If you or someone you know has questions regarding their immigration case, give Law Offices of Wiliani-Malek a call at (714) 432 – 1333 to receive legal advice by an Immigration Specialized Attorney.