Integrity Legal

23rd Jun 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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