Re-entry permits and returning resident visas during COVID-19
Abandoning U.S. Residency
As a result of COVID-19, many green card holders are choosing to temporarily move out of the United States until a vaccine is produced. Green cards allow you to live and work in the U.S. on a full-time basis. It is a "use it or lose it" status - meaning that if you do not live in the U.S., you run the risk of "abandoning" your residency status. If you remain outside of the U.S. for 1 year or more, a customs officer may revoke your green card and deny you entry if they think you abandoned your residency status.
As a result of COVID-19, many green card holders are choosing to temporarily move out of the United States until a vaccine is produced. In many cases, this may mean leaving the U.S. for more than one year. Green card holders who are currently in the U.S. should apply for a re-entry permit before moving abroad. A re-entry permit will allow the green card holder to remain outside the U.S. for up to 2 years without abandoning their residency status. In other words, you can reside outside of the U.S. for 2 years and still be able to return to the U.S. and keep your green card without the risk of abandoning your status here.
Returning Resident Visas
Green card holders who are currently residing outside of the U.S. and who do not anticipate being able to returning to the United States can apply for a Returning Resident Visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. To qualify for this visa, you have to demonstrate that there were circumstances beyond your control that prevented you from returning to the U.S. Arguably, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic would qualify as good cause.