CBP memorandum for returning residents – maybe no need for an SB-1 Visa!

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Dev B. Viswanath, Esq. (Photo courtesy of Dev B. Viswanath, Esq.)

Customs & Border Patrol has provided very helpful information for green card holders that have been stuck abroad for more than a year because of the Covid 19 pandemic, which will allow people to avoid possible applications for SB-1 Returning Resident Visas.

Previously, there were thousands of people stranded in their home countries, because they were unable to travel and they stayed outside the United States for over a month, and therefore believed that they had abandoned their status and needed Sb-1 applications. However, many consular posts were inundated and lacked the resources to help facilitate people getting appointments in any quick fashion. Therefore CBP formulated guidance to allow for certain permanent residents to return to the United States despite not having a valid Sb-1 Returning Resident, and being out of the US for more than 1 year.

The following is the Current Policy for Boarding of Lawful Permanent Residents:

Unexpired Valid Permanent Resident Card: Passengers with valid, unexpired Permanent Resident Card (PRC or “Green Card”) may be boarded without any additional documentation.
Re-Entry Permit (I-327): Valid and Unexpired
• Passengers with valid, unexpired re-entry permit are permitted to board without additional documentation.
• The document must be the original Re-Entry permit. Copies are not accepted.
Expired Permanent Resident Cards: Ten-year validity
• LPR’s with expired I-551 may be boarded without penalty, provided the card was issued with a 10-year expiration date.
Expired Permanent Resident Cards: Containing Extension Sticker/Form I-797
• Starting in January 2021, the sticker that is currently issued to LPRs to extend the validity of their PRC (placed on the back of the card) has been discontinued.
• The revised I-797 receipt notice, together with an applicant’s PRC, will serve as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status for 12 months from the expiration date on the front of the Green Card.
• PRCs that contain the extension sticker will remain valid until the expiration date.
• The document must be the original I-797 permit. Copies are not accepted.
Expired Conditional Resident: Two-year validity
• A Conditional Resident with an expired PRC (with a two-year expiration date) may be boarded if also in possession of a Notice of Action (Form I-797).
• The Notice of Action extends the validity of the card for a specified length of time, generally 18 months.
• Do not board the traveler if they are not in possession of Form I-797.
SB-1 Visas: Valid and Unexpired
• Travelers in possession of a valid, unexpired SB-1 visa in their passport may be boarded without additional documentation.

Airlines should not be determining admissibility of a travel outside the parameters of the document requirements.

For more information or to discuss the options for you or your loved one stranded abroad, please contact an experienced US Immigration Professional.

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