Have you ever wondered how you can apply for a green card renewal while outside of the United States? In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick tells you everything you need to know about this process.
We also discuss how you can travel internationally if your green card has already expired.
If you want to know more about this topic, please keep on watching!
This topic will be of interest to permanent residents who are overseas and now have an expired green card, as well as those who want to travel abroad but have an expired green card.
When you are issued a green card (Permanent Residence), it essentially means that you have the right to live permanently in the United States for a renewable period of 10 years.
Some of the benefits of being a lawful permanent resident are that you can accept employment without restriction, own property, receive financial assistance at public colleges and universities, and join the Armed Forces. Before the expiration of your permanent resident card, you must apply to renew it by filing Form I-90 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once the necessary time has passed you may apply for United States Citizenship. Permanent residents who gained their status by marriage to a U.S. citizen can apply for naturalization upon their third anniversary as permanent residents if they remain married to the same U.S. Citizen spouse. Otherwise, the wait time is five years.
What happens if my green card expires while I am outside of the United States?
If your green card expires while you are outside of the United States, you will not be able to renew it until you re-enter the country.
The good news is that it is possible for you to re-enter with an expired green card, so long as it has expired within less than a year, although it is not always easy to do so.
A more serious problem arises if you have been outside of the United States for more than a year and did not apply for a re-entry permit. In this circumstance, you may be at risk of losing your permanent residence and potentially having to start your green card application process all over again.
What should you do if your green card expires while you are overseas?
- Absences of less than a year
If you have been outside of the United States for less than a year, the first thing that you must do is confirm whether you are eligible to re-enter the United States with your expired green card. You will need to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence and request a re-entry document allowing you to gain admission to the United States.
You must also speak with your airline carrier to ensure that you can provide the appropriate documentation when boarding your flight to the United States, so that you do not run into any issues at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Please note that your eligibility for a re-entry permit will depend on how long you have been outside of the United States. In cases where it has been determined that you have abandoned your permanent resident status (for instance if you have been outside of the United States for more than a year), you will not be eligible to obtain a re-entry permit.
Once you are back on U.S. soil, you will be processed at the port of entry by CBP to gain admission to the United States. During your clearance at the port of entry, you may be required to pay a fine.
- Absences of more than one year
If you have been outside of the United States for more than one year, then you will need to schedule an appointment at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence to apply for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa to gain admission to the United States, at least three months in advance of your travel to allow for sufficient time to process your visa. As part of the visa application process, an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is required.
The SB-1 is an immigrant visa that allows you to enter the United States and resume your permanent residence, for those who have remained outside of the United States for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a Re-entry Permit. You must prove that you remained outside of the United States due to circumstances beyond your control.
To qualify for an SB-1 visa you will need to prove to the Consular Officer that you:
- Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the United States;
- Departed from the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and
- Are returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.
SB-1 Required Documentation
When applying for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa, you must generally submit the following forms and documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply:
- A completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117
- Your Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551
- Your Re-entry Permit, if available
You may also be required to submit supporting documents that show the following:
- Dates of travel outside of the United States (Examples: airline tickets, passport stamps, etc.)
- Proof of your ties to the United States and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns, and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the United States)
- Proof that your protracted stay outside of the United States was for reasons beyond your control (Examples: medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, etc.)
At your interview, a consular officer will review your application and supporting documents to determine whether you meet the criteria for Returning Resident (SB-1) status.
What happens if you want to travel abroad, but you have just discovered that your green card expired?
In this circumstance, you must apply for a renewal of your green card by filing Form I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Once you have filed your application, you will receive a Notice of Action receipt notice within approximately 2-3 weeks, confirming that your application has been filed and is pending with USCIS.
You will need to carefully read your Notice of Action to determine whether you may use it as evidence of your lawful permanent resident status for international travel. In most cases, you may use your expired green card, together with the Notice of Action receipt notice for the I-90, as sufficient proof of your lawful permanent resident status for the prescribed period indicated in the Notice of Action. If such language is present on your Notice of Action, then you can use your expired green card and Notice of Action to re-gain entry to the U.S. after international travel.
If you have any doubts you should speak with an immigration attorney to review your Notice of Action receipt notice and advise you appropriately.
Otherwise, you can request an Infopass appointment to visit a USCIS field office in-person to receive an ADIT (I-551) stamp in your passport, as temporary evidence of your lawful permanent resident status.
Once you receive this ADIT stamp in your passport, you will be able to travel internationally.
- TIP: You must file your I-90 application to renew your green card, BEFORE engaging in foreign travel.
- TIP: If you are planning to remain outside of the United States for more than one year, you must apply for a re-entry permit before your travel to avoid any issues with your permanent resident status in the future.
We hope you have found this video helpful and invite you to schedule a consultation if you have further questions.
Contact us. Need our help? To schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.
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- SB-1 Returning Resident Visa
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- Employment-Based Fourth Preference (EB-4) Announcement
- Adjustment of Status Filing Dates from Visa Bulletin
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- USCIS Announces End of COVID-Related Flexibilities
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- DOS Visa Services Operating Status Update
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