Green Card Holder Outside the U.S. During COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 global pandemic has been ongoing for close to one year and many countries have implemented inbound and outbound travel restrictions.  U.S. permanent residents and conditional permanent residents caught outside the United States due to COVID-19 are experiencing significant challenges in making return travel plans home to the United States. Certain period of absences from the United States can interrupt eligibility for U.S. citizenship as well as the ability to retain a permanent resident card (“green card”).

When a permanent resident or green card holder is seeking to return to the U.S. after a prolonged trip outside the U.S., they should not depend on the sympathy of a U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer to allow entry amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.  Our office recommends all green card holder outside the U.S. seeking re-entry to the U.S. to gather and present the following (if available and applicable) to a U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer:

  1. proof of filing U.S. income tax returns;
  2. proof of job or employment in the U.S.;
  3. proof of bank account in the U.S.;
  4. proof of lease ot home ownership in the U.S.;
  5. proof of spouse or children living in the U.S.;
  6. proof that departure from U.S. was temporary and had a returning ticket;
  7. proof that returning flight to the U.S. was canceled by airline;
  8. proof could not get outbound flight to the U.S.;
  9. proof that tested positive for COVID-19 and could not enter the U.S.; and
  10. any proof to rebut the presumption that might have abandoned their residence.

In the end, a permanent resident or green card holder is applying for admission to the United States and the officer has the power to confiscate a green card at the airport/point of entry and referred the green card holder to a hearing before an immigration judge.  If the green card holder outside the U.S. has been absent from the U.S. for greater than one year, then they have abandoned their residency under the law and may have to seek permission to the return to the U.S. through the U.S. Embassy abroad.

For more information on green card holder outside the U.S.,

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