Ep. 26 I stayed overseas for three and a half years after my green card expired. Can I renew my green card and try to use the card to enter the US?

  • If you leave the US more than a year without getting, for example, a reentry permit you may lose your green card
  • Two issues: not possible to renew it overseas and it could mean you abandoned your residency
  • Three years is considered a long time; card now is deemed abandoned. Best thing to do is to consult an attorney.

Raw Transcript:

Jacob: Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of Ask An Immigration Lawyer – you ask, we answer, simple.

Today’s question is coming from Phoenix, Arizona and the person is asking this. I stayed overseas after my green card already expired. I stayed there for about three and a half years and I’m thinking about going back to the US. Can I renew my green card and try to use the card to enter the US?

Well, this is a very, very tricky situation where … A green card is kind of deceiving because they call this a permanent resident. It is permanent in the sense that once you get a green card usually you have it for ten years and you can stay here and you can renew it every ten years, in a way it’s permanent. But once you leave the US, if you leave the US more than a year without getting for example a reentry permit which is a document that will preserve your residency then you may lose your green card.

And so in this case this person whose been out of the country for almost three and a half years with his green card and now that his green card expired we have two issues here. First issue is that it’s not going to be possible to renew it from overseas and even if the green card didn’t expire trying to enter the US after so long could be a problem because now the presumption is that you have abandoned your residency.

For a person that has a valid green card but has stayed overseas more than a year without a reentry permit it’s possible to apply for a reentry to the US as a resident with a green card and prove that in the sense they maintain the US as a permanent resident and then they had circumstances beyond their control as to why they stayed overseas. This is basically something that you can apply using a returning resident visa, the SB1. You can do it at the consulate overseas and you have to, of course, to show that you have not abandoned your residency and things happened beyond your control. In this case if the green card was not expired then you could have gone to the US consulate and try to plea the case for an SB1.

It’s very difficult to do it after three years because it’s considered to be really a long time. The last time you spend abroad after the one year will be easier to get that SB1. But the bottom line is that now that the green card is expired and you’re overseas it’s going to be very difficult if not impossible to renew it and so … it’s [inaudible 00:02:54] to consult an attorney to figure out what can be done depending what are the options that you have. Whether you have family members that can help you reapply or through employment but essentially the card now has already expired and its deemed abandoned. So hopefully that make sense.

Thanks for listening to ask an immigrations lawyer podcast. If you have any questions please send them through our website, through our blog and leave us comments and we look forward to seeing you at our next episode. Ask an immigration lawyer, you ask, we answer, simple.