Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘SB-1’

26th December 2009

For Thai-American couples the most common method of immigrating to the USA is through use of a K1 visa. The K1 visa is a fiancee visa granting the bearer 90 days of lawful presence in the United States of America with the option to apply for adjustment of status. If an adjustment of status application is submitted and approved then the Thai fiancee will be granted conditional lawful permanent residence for 2 years. After nearly 2 years the couple should submit a petition for a lift of conditions of the Thai spouse’s permanent residence. Should this petition receive approval, the Thai spouse will become an unconditional lawful permanent resident of the United States of America.

There are some travel restrictions placed upon permanent residents of the United States. Namely, they cannot be outside of the USA for more than one year without endangering their resident status in the USA. For those who remain abroad for more than one year it may be necessary to apply for an SB-1 visa. This is a visa specifically meant for returning residents of the USA. For those who plan to be outside of the USA for a substantial period of time there is a way to forestall a finding of residential abandonment: a US reentry permit. This is a travel document that is very similar to advance parole in so far as it preserves the status of the lawful permanent resident while they remain abroad. These travel documents are generally granted with a validity period of 2 years from issuance.

Recently, this author came into contact with an individual who had lawful permanent resident status in the US, but had lost his Resident Alien Card (“Green Card”) and needed to return to the US. This individual still had a valid US reentry permit. After some research, this author discovered that a United States lawful permanent resident may reenter the country without a proper visa provided that they have a valid United States reentry permit.

To directly quote from the website of the US Embassy in Mumbai:

“Per 8CFR 211.1, an alien in possession of a valid form I-327, Permit to reenter the United states (i.e. reentry permit), does not require a visa to reenter the United States.  Therefore, [one] may travel [to the USA] with [only one's] valid reentry permit.”

In a way, the United States reentry permit is akin to a passport for lawful permanent residents although it is inherently more restrictive than a US passport. For those lawful permanent residents thinking of leaving the USA for a prolonged period of time it may be wise to seriously consider applying for a reentry permit because it provides not only the peace of mind that comes from preserving one’s status, it can also act as a backup travel document in the event one loses their resident alien card.

For related information please see our postings about losing a US passport and obtaining a new one from American Citizen Services at a US Consulate in Thailand.

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23rd June 2009

Of great concern to those United States permanent residents (Green Card holders) visiting Thailand is the amount of time they will be allowed to spend outside of the United States and still retain their lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Failure to remain in the United States for prolonged periods of time could lead to a revocation of one’s LPR.

In order to stay in Lawful Permanent Resident or Conditional Resident (CR) status for United States Immigration purposes the alien in question must maintain an actual domicile in the USA and not remain outside of the country (as defined in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act) for longer than one year. A Green card holder classified as LPR or CR who possesses a re-entry permit issued by an office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service in the United Sates may stay outside of the United States until the re-entry permit’s expiration date. Upon initial issuance, re-entry permits are usually issued with a validity of two years.

An alien classified as having Lawful Permanent Residence or Conditional Residence in the USA who has not returned to the United States for a span of time longer than twelve months, or past the expiration date of a re-entry permit, will be  required to obtain a new immigrant (CR-1 or IR-1 in the case of spouses) visa in order to reenter the United States in order to reestablish permanent residence.

Under specific provisions of United States Immigration law an exception was created which confers special immigrant status as a returning resident to a Lawful Permanent Resident or Conditional Resident who has lingered outside of the United States due to extenuating circumstances beyond the alien’s control. Although being approved for returning resident status negates the requirement that an immigrant visa application be filed on behalf of the alien with USCIS, the alien must establish his or her eligibility for a US immigrant visa, have a medical examination performed and remit the visa processing fee of three hundred and fifty-five United States dollars with an additional security fee of forty-five United States dollars as well as the fee for the medical examination.

Of Important note to Conditional Residents (CR) of the United States in a situation such as this: if a CR fails to submit an application to have the conditionality of resident status lifted, then that person must apply for a new immigrant visa. In this situation, the CR is not allowed to submit an application for status as a returning resident.

Much like advance parole for a K1 visa holder, the SB-1 returning resident travel document and the re-entry permit are both very important documents should an immigrant seek to leave the United States.

(Please be advised that this post is meant for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No Attorney-Client Relationship is to be deemed to have been formed between the writer of this piece and any subsequent readers.)

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