Is there any flexibility for Green Card holders stuck outside the United States due to COVID-19?

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Is there any flexibility for Green Card holders stuck outside the United States due to Covid-19 (Coronavirus)? What are their options?

The short answer is no. There is no special flexibility due to Covid-19. One of the most common issues causing concern in the community is Green Card holders who have traveled outside the United States and have stayed abroad for over six months and, in some cases, over one year. So, what are their options? Let’s start with the worst-case scenario.

You Have Spent 1+ Year Abroad

First, you have remained outside the U.S. for more than one year, and you were unable to travel to the United States because of an inability to travel due to illness, lockdowns, fear of traveling, canceled flights, unduly hardships, or circumstances beyond your control, such as a global pandemic.

If you have spent more than a year outside the United States, there is a high likelihood that you have unintentionally abandoned your green card status (unless you’ve applied for a re-entry permit before your departure). If you have remained outside the United States for more than one year (or beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit), you may be eligible for returning Resident Immigrant visa at the U.S consulate abroad.

Unfortunately, the Returning Resident visa is not automatically granted. During the interview, you must prove to the consular officer the following:

  1. You departed from the U.S. intending to return and have not abandoned this intention; and

  2. You are returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was prolonged, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.

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