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How not to lose a green card if quarantine or other reason detained you abroad

What to do for Green Card holders who are stuck outside the United States due to Covid-19, the publication explained The Economic Times.

Photo: Shutterstock

Since immigration rules are constantly changing depending on the pandemic situation, it is difficult to keep up with all of this.

Many Green Card holders were forced to permanently stay outside the United States for one year or more. Under normal circumstances, this is considered a waiver of permanent resident status, your Green Card. What can you do about it?

Unexpired green card

The US government agencies directly involved in this problem are well aware of the practical difficulties.

But, unfortunately, they were slow to formulate an improvement policy despite repeated boarding problems.

Back on March 5, 2021, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued instructions for commercial airlines.

The instructions allow airlines to allow boarding for all Green Card holders whose green cards have not yet expired, even if they have resided outside the United States for one year or more without prior USCIS approval (called re-entry clearance) or any other means. ...

The green card has expired

According to the CBP directive of March 5, an expired green card can still be used for boarding, provided it has been issued with a ten-year validity period.

If in doubt, airlines should contact the CBP Regional Carrier Liaison Group (RCLG) for assistance with landing requests.

However, please note that RCLG only communicates with airlines, not travelers or their lawyers.

Historically, US consulates have issued travel permits (boarding passes) in the event of an expired Green Card.

Their standard operating procedures now state that expired Green Card cases must be resolved with the CBP; boarding passes are now usually issued for lost or stolen green cards.

If you can manage to solve the landing problems, your next task will be at the US airport.

There the CBP finally decides if you are eligible to enter the United States.

Fortunately, anecdotal evidence so far suggests that if your delayed absence is reasonably commensurate with the difficulties associated with COVID-19, you will be able to enter the United States.

If the RCLG option does not work for any reason, the airline or you can also try to contact the CBP at the US airport you will be entering. They have proven to be useful in many such cases.

On the subject: Thousands of winners of the green card lottery are fighting for their right to move to the USA: for many there is no longer hope

If all of the above options are not available, you may need to apply for an SB-1 visa at a US consulate.

The SB-1 visa allows you to return to the United States and regain your Green Card status.

You must provide proof that your absence from the United States is due to reasons beyond your control.

Please note that consulates are currently struggling with non-compliance with visa requirements and limited operations.

Therefore, getting an SB-1 visa quickly can be challenging.

Land ports of entry

Entry into the United States by land is subject to a set of procedures other than air travel, where you may not even be allowed to board the plane.

CBP officers at dry ports may refuse entry for "good reason".

A waiver request is made by completing Form I-193, Passport Waiver and / or Visa Application at Port.

Ultimately, the CBP will decide on the spot whether the reasons for your absence are acceptable.

Unfortunately, there are no official sources of information at all.

CBP's FAQs refer you to work with US consulates if you have been outside the US for one year or more; consulate websites recommend that you contact the CBP.

The way out of this vicious circle is through airlines reaching RCLG, or if you contact the CBP at the port, you apply for the SB-1 visa through the consulate or enter by ground transportation.

It is also recommended that you seek assistance from your Congressional representative. They can often overcome the bureaucracy associated with multiple agencies.

Impact of lack of naturalization

Even if the US government considers your stay abroad to be justified due to factors beyond your control, USCIS cannot change the legal time frame for naturalization.

For people who are not married to US citizens, the law requires you to have a Green Card for five years and be physically present in the United States for thirty months to apply for naturalization.

You may be interested in: top New York news, stories of our immigrants, and helpful tips about life in the Big Apple - read it all on ForumDaily New York.

If you leave the United States for one year, the required five years are reset.

The time you spent in the United States prior to leaving the country does not count towards your physical presence.

But if you return within two years, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization four years and one day after your return.

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Miscellanea Immigration in the USA green card unexpired green card expired green card land ports
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