Permanent resident status is permanent, until it is not permanent. While green card holders can potentially live their entire lives in the U.S. without becoming a U.S. citizen, it is also possible to lose your green card by staying outside of the country for an extended period of time.
Reeves Immigration Law Group is happy to announce the issuance of a Returning Resident Visa for our client. Our client, Jose (whose name has been changed to protect his privacy), is a native and citizen of Peru. He was originally granted permanent resident status several years ago based off a petition from his U.S. citizen daughter, but he has been unable to use his green card to return to the U.S. since he has been in Peru for more than one year. However, with the issuance of a Returning Resident Visa, also commonly refereed to as an SB-1 Visa, Jose is now able to return to America as a permanent resident and reunite with his United States citizen children.
A permanent resident’s status as a green card holder is considered abandoned if they have remained outside of the U.S. for more than one year. When these lengthy absences do happen, a permanent resident who wishes to resume their permanent residence in the United States must first acquire a Returning Resident Visa. The Returning Resident Visa is only available at U.S. Embassies abroad, and it acts like a new Immigrant Visa in that it allows the permanent resident to reenter the United States. It eliminates the need for an individual to refile a visa petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, thereby saving valuable time and avoiding processing delays.
To qualify for the Returning Resident Visa, the applicant must prove that he or she was a permanent resident at the time of their departure from the U.S., and that they departed with the intention of timely returning to the U.S. In addition, the applicant must also prove that he or she is returning from a temporary trip abroad, and if the stay abroad was protracted, it was caused by circumstances beyond his or her control.
In Jose’s case, he and his wife intended to live the remainder of their lives in the United States as permanent residents. They did want to go on vacation though, which is how Jose ended up in Peru in the first place. While on vacation, Jose’s wife unfortunately experienced a serious of medical issues that prevented her from returning to the U.S. Jose absolutely refused to leave his loving wife’s side. This determination to take care of his wife resulted in Jose remaining in Peru for more than one year.
When Jose was ultimately ready to return to his home in the U.S., he and family worked with Attorney Michael Bhotiwihok to file the required application for a Returning Resident Visa. In addition to the application, there was also strong documentation as proof that Jose never intended to abandon his green card. Rather, he was only in Peru for such an extended period of time so that he could help care for his wife.
Everything worked out for Jose and his family, as they have been reunited in the U.S. But these cases are always challenging. If you or someone you know is a permanent resident who has remained outside the United States for more than one year, consult with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to discuss how to submit a strong application for a Returning Resident Visa.