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Staying Outside the US too Long on a GC

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What happens if I stay outside the United States for more than six months because of the Corona virus?

Hi I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St Louis, Missouri. We got an email over the weekend from a good client of ours, a good friend Krishna. He’s been a long time client of ours. We helped him get his two year green card then his 10 year green card then his citizenship. He’s a real good guy. And then he helped his mom get her green card.

She’s been back home in India for a while now and he’s wondering if the travel restrictions expand and she’s not able to get into the United States before her six months are up, is that going to affect her law for permanent residence. So I wanted to shoot this video to talk about that.

If I didn’t say it already I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States at our office here in St Louis, Missouri. Sorry about that. But in getting to Krishna’s question, I really wanted to get to it so that’s why I skipped my usual intro. Anyway with Krishna’s mom this is a real concern. So you never want to cut it too close and this goes sort of to my overall exhortation and advice to people and that is that you never ever want to cut it too close to coming back to the United States.

I mean generally we’re not thinking about viruses and travel bans and things like that but more often we’re talking about situations where someone is overseas and they get sick back in that home country and can’t travel so we have seen that before. So for Krishna’s mom, the six month concern of course is that that’s going to stop her clock if she ever wants to apply for citizenship. And I don’t know if that’s something that’s on her agenda, on her plans, but she wants to get back as soon as possible.

So I would, as hard as it is, I would try to get her back to the United States if you can. If she can’t and later on she tries to come back when the scare is over I would say that she has a pretty good argument as to why she couldn’t get into the country. If she bought a ticket, tried to return and they refused her or the flights from Europe got canceled and that’s how she was going to come, I think that you need to do everything you can to get here to keep all the proof of that so that you can show that this was outside of your control.

I think it’s still going to stop the clock for purposes of citizenship, but if you get closer to that one year requirement of being within the United States, you don’t want to be left out in the cold and you want to be able to show why you weren’t in the United States.

It’s not the best solution. The best solution is to actually be here or to not cut it too close, but I would encourage non US citizens from around the country who have their green cards to get back as soon as they can because I think this is going to be a problem for a couple months now. So Krishna, I hope that answers your question. Generally and globally I just want people to understand, don’t ever count on being able to come back on the five month and 25th day after you left the United States.

You don’t ever want to cut it that close. I would say no trips more than three or four months outside the United States. So obviously we’re in strange times but there’s all different kinds of things that can happen when someone’s overseas. So just generally, you never want to cut it that close. I hope this was helpful.

If you have questions about international travel with a green card or any other kind of immigration related questions, give us a call at (314) 961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you like this video be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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