SOS!! US PR status questions

  1. #1

    SOS!! US PR status questions

    I am an U.S. permanent resident(a.k.a. green card holder). I relocated to Asia about 2 years ago and haven't been back to the U.S. more than 1 year.
    My PR card states it valid until year 2017. That's why I thought I didn't have to do anything to keep my PR status until 2017. I didn't know I should apply for re-entry permit "before" I left the U.S., so I didn't apply for one.
    I heard from my friend that my PR status is not in good standing because I haven't been back to the U.S. more than 1 year. In addition, I need to have "re-entry permit" to enter the U.S. BUT, "re-entry permit" can NOT be applied from outside the U.S..
    I have to go back to the U.S. in September for family functions. But I am stuck in a difficult situation: How can I enter the U.S. if my PR status isn’t in good standing and I cannot apply for re-entry permit outside the U.S..
    I don’t want to give up my PR status. I lived in the U.S. for many years and I have paid U.S. tax for many years (and continue paying U.S. tax even since relocated to Asia). I have many friends and relatives there. We even bought a house there. I consider California as my home and want to move back there someday. It would be very difficult for me to give up my PR status.
    I will be very appreciated if anyone can give me any advice on my situation or share your experience if you have similar issues, or recommend immigration lawyers in H.K. who are familiar with similar issues. Thanks a lot!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2002

    Call the consulate before you panic .. they should be able to give you the definitive answer about the re-entry permit.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2009
    You may be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status if you:

    Remain outside of the US for more than one year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the US may be considered, even if it is less than one year.

    The most you can do is what "shri" said and ask the consulate.

    I believe Form I-551 was the form you were supposed to fill out. It's used for readmission in which a re-entry permit is needed for trips greater than one year but less than two years in duration.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    green card

    My wife had similar questions a couple years ago.

    After talking with an immigration lawyer we learned
    that, basically, the US govt can take away a green card
    whenever they want. If the govt thinks you don't intend
    to make your home in the US, they may take the green
    card away.

    If you stay away for less than six months, then there
    is usually no problem, unless you do it repeatedly
    and the border guard gets suspicious.

    If you stay away between six months and one year,
    then, again, there is usually no problem. However,
    the burden in this case is on you to show that
    you intend to live in the US.

    If you stay away for more than one year, you
    will likely not be able to enter the US unless
    you have a re-entry permit or an SB-1 visa.
    (It may even be that the border guard is not
    even permitted to let you in if you don't have
    a valid reentry permit or SB-1 visa. I'm not sure.
    They may have some discretion.)

    An SB-1 visa is issued by a US consulate abroad,
    It's a special visa for returning permanent residents.
    You need to pay the consulate US$400 and convince them
    that you really intend to live in the US and
    that you have been absent more than 1 year due
    to unforeseen circumstances. See information here:
    Permanent Resident Services - Returning Resident Visas - Consulate General of the United States Hong Kong and Macau

    A re-entry permit is issued by the USCIS. You have to
    apply while in the US, so it's too late for you for that
    option. But anyway, a re-entry permit usually lets you stay
    away for 2 years. You don't have to be in the US while your
    application is processed (it takes several months).
    However, you may have to hang around for some time
    after applying waiting for an appointment to get fingerprinted.

    I have not found the HK US consulate to be particularly helpful,
    and would not recommend asking for general advice from them.
    Anyway, your green card status is not managed by them
    (the consulate is part of the State Department) but by USCIS
    (which is part of Homeland Security). However, the
    consulate is the place to get the special SB-1 visa, if you can.

    I think it may be a good idea for you to speak with a lawyer
    to get the latest information-- we went through this two years
    ago, and this stuff seems to change all the time.

  5. #5

    Thank you very much for all your responses.
    Hi PMH,
    Thanks a lot for your detailed info.
    Would you please help me clarify one question?
    After granted with SB-1 status, do I still have to apply for an immigrant visa?
    Or I can enter the US using the SB-1 as a visa?

    I found this paragraph from US consulate in HK web link you provided:
    "If the applicant is judged to qualify for returning resident status, he/she must then complete the entire immigrant visa process (including paying the immigrant visa fees, obtaining a medical exam, submitting all necessary police clearances and civil documents, and appearing for an immigrant visa interview.)"

    Does that mean I have to go through all the immigration process again to gain the immigration visa? I am afraid that if I have to go thru the entire immigration visa application process, I may not be able to enter the US on time(September)....

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2005


    I don't know much about the SB-1 visa.
    My wife didn't need to apply for an SB-1.
    She got back before a year was up, and
    then applied for a re-entry permit.

    The US consulate website does make it sound
    like this is a two stage process. The embassy
    in Spain describes the process a little more
    clearly: Immigrant Visas - Returning Resident (SB-1) Visas
    It looks like you first submit form DS-117
    to determine whether you have returning
    resident status. If this status is granted,
    you can then apply for the SB-1 visa.

    Good luck!

  7. #7

    how about for holder of a US Passport will i have a problem getting back in?

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gulf Region, ex Mid-Levels
    Quote Originally Posted by lhcheung03:
    how about for holder of a US Passport will i have a problem getting back in?
    No, not as long as it is valid. I have been a passport holder for over 30 years, and have visited the USA about 4 times in the past 20 years. My "funny accent" (British) does raise a few eyebrows though when entering.

    Generally it is a good idea to keep it up to date as when traveling around asia your pages fill up quickly and the US is one of the few countries left which allows you to add extra pages.

    In your passport read para 13 under "Important Information"

    "Under certain circumstances you may loose your US citizenship by performing, voluntary and with the intension to relinquish US citizenship, any of the following acts. (1) being Naturalized in a foreign state [eg becoming a Chinese HK citizen]; (2) taking an oath or making a declaration to a foreign state [this can apply when you swear an oath to a rival spying agency]; (3) serving in the armed forces of a foreign state [e.g. joining the PLA]; (4) accepting employment with a foreign government; (5) formally renouncing your citizenship before a US consular official overseas."

    If you have done one of these, you may have problems, but even then there are exemptions.
    Last edited by fth; 26-01-2010 at 01:42 PM. Reason: Extra Information