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Monday, 4 May 2020

ALLAN WERNICK: Coronavirus crisis doesn’t mean losing your residence status while stuck abroad

A green card holder has not abandoned permanent residence if "the stay was caused by circumstances beyond the person’s control for which he or she was not responsible.”
A green card holder has not abandoned permanent residence if "the stay was caused by circumstances beyond the person’s control for which he or she was not responsible.”(TNS)

Q. My parents are green card holders stuck in Argentina due to the coronavirus crisis. If they can’t return to the U.S. within one year, will they lose their permanent residence status? Does the Trump travel ban affect their situation?
Maria, Conn.
A. I’m confident your parents can return to the United States once they get a flight, even if they are abroad for over a year. I’ve written briefly about the rules for green card holders stuck abroad, but it’s worth a detailed explanation.
First, the Trump travel ban won’t affect your parents. The question is whether your parents abandoned their U.S. residence — clearly they have not.
When someone gets an immigrant visa — a green card — they must have the intention of residing in the United States. If a person is abroad a continuous year or longer, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can presume the person abandoned their residence. CBP can then bar them from entering the U.S., since a green card is no longer a valid entry document when they’ve been out of the country that long.
If your parents are abroad for a continuous year or longer, they must get a special immigrant/returning resident visa at at U.S. consulate — once they open — or apply for entry without a visa at a U.S. port of entry.
A green card holder has not abandoned permanent residence if "the stay was caused by circumstances beyond the person’s control for which he or she was not responsible.” That rule applies in your parents’ case.
Normally, CBP considers whether the green card holder has a home in the United States, a U.S. bank account, driver’s license, has paid taxes, or has family ties here.


Finally, CBP must parole a green card holder into the United States as the person has a right to a hearing. Immigration judges won’t be happy seeing abandonment cases for people caught abroad during the coronavirus crisis.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 7th Fl., 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y., 10004 or email to questions@allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.

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