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Immigration Corner: Will my boyfriend lose his green card?

Published:Monday | October 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I have a boyfriend who is a green-card holder. He has been in Jamaica since May 2013.

His green card expired in June last year.

Can you please tell me the best step to take to help him regain his green card?

– KW


Dear KW,

Your boyfriend is deemed to have abandoned his United States (US) residency.

As a permanent resident, he has been outside the US for more than a year.

A green-card holder is authorised to live and work in the US.

When you don’t, you get into murky waters that can lead to loss of US residency.

In this case, being outside the US for more than two years signalled to the US government that he was not interested in living in the US during that period, or, in preserving his permanent-residency status in the US during the two-year time frame.

If a green-card holder has to leave the US for an extended period or if upon receipt of US residency is not ready to take up residency, in the US, the US Department of Homeland Security offers a re-entry permit.

Upon providing proof to Homeland Security as to why you cannot live in the US for up to two years, you can receive a re-entry permit that would allow you to live outside the US for up to two years, and not lose your US residency status; The permit can be renewed under extenuating circumstances.

When a person is outside the US for more than a year, he or she can only legally return if granted returning resident status by the US embassy in Jamaica.

To successfully be granted this status, the consular officer must be satisfied that when you left the US you left for a temporary visit that lasted longer than you intended, and that whatever kept you out of the country was unavoidable.

If you can provide proof that you maintained your domicile in the States and had unavoidable reasons for remaining outside the US for more than a year, the US consular officer may, in his or her discretion, grant you returning-resident status.

If you are denied returning-resident status and you have a qualifying relative in the US, you can be petitioned for a new green card.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal and personal-injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com