Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.
QUESTION: I had a green card as a child. My green card got expired while I was abroad and I didn’t go to the US to renew it because I was in University and then I couldn’t travel back to the US for the next three years after finishing university because the laws of my home country required me to stay for an additional three years. Is it possible for me to renew my green card now after it expired 5 years ago?
THE IMMIGRATION ANSWER MAN – ARI SAUER:
US Permanent Residents should not take a trip outside the US of longer than a year without obtaining a Reentry Permit. Those with reentry permits should not remain outside the US beyond the expiration of the Reentry Permit. US Permanent Residents should not let their green cards expire while they are abroad. In any of these situations the Permanent Resident can be considered to have abandoned their residence. For a US Permanent Resident who has a valid green card but has stayed abroad over a year without a reentry permit or who has overstayed their reentry permit, it is possible to apply for reentry into the US as a permanent resident with the green card and proof that they have maintained the US as their permanent residence, including showing that the reason for the trip was temporary and that the overlong stay was due to unexpected reasons beyond the person’s control. An example of this would be someone who was planning to make a shorter stay but became too ill to travel back to the US. The longer the person has stayed outside, the harder it is to show this.
Where a permanent resident lets their green card while they are abroad (or lets both their green card and reentry permit expire) they would need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa (SB-1). This can be done at the US consular post abroad. The applicant will still need to show that they have not abandoned their US permanent residence as described above. If the consulate refuses the SB-1 visa, then they applicant would require a new nonimmigrant or immigrant visa to return to the US. Having previously been a US Permanent Resident does not benefit them in this.
So it is recommend that an experienced US immigration lawyer is consulted before applying for a Returning Resident (SB-1) visa, as an experienced attorney will be able to assist applicants in providing the best available documentation in support of their claim that they maintained their US residence, increasing the chances for an approval.
* This is an advertisement. Ari Sauer is an attorney with the Siskind Susser law firm. http://www.visalaw.com/ari.html. On this blog we answer questions as a service to our readers, but we cannot assume any liability related to reliance on anything herein, and responses to questions are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Immigration laws and regulations are constantly changing and the rules stated may not apply to your situation. Readers are cautioned to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer before acting on anything stated in this blog. This blog is not intended to substitute for a consultation with a qualified immigration law attorney. Ari Sauer is licensed to practice law through the states of Tennessee, New York and New Jersey but is eligible to assist clients from throughout the US. Certification as an Immigration Specialist is not currently available in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey. Siskind Susser limits its practice strictly to immigration law, a Federal practice area, and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than where our attorneys are licensed. The opinions expressed here are those of Ari Sauer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Siskind Susser.