Wed | Feb 26, 2020

Immigration Corner | Living outside the US for 19 years, can she go back?

Published:Tuesday | May 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington:

I am writing on behalf of a cousin of mine.

She, her mother, and her uncles were filed for in 1999 by her grandfather (her mother's father) to migrate to the United States. She was eight years old at the time.

Unfortunately, after a few months of being in the United States, my cousin had to come back to Jamaica with her grandmother because of a family issue.

She and her mother are now desirous of her returning to the USA. However, her mother is unable to locate the Social Security number that was assigned to her.

Is there anything that can be done to assist my cousin?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

- MD

Dear MD:

Any US permanent resident - green card holder who has been outside the United States for more than a year or more than two years if they had a Re-Entry Permit is considered to have abandoned their residency. Your cousin has been outside the US for 19 years and she is no longer considered a US resident.

She has two options to return to the United States:

1. Obtain approval as a returning resident, (RR) or

2. Have a new permanent resident application filed by a qualified relative.

To qualify as an RR, a person has to prove, among other things, that they have ties to the United States and intention to return; and that the extended time they spent outside of the US was beyond their control. This can be a high bar for some people to overcome, and the application has to be supplemented with supporting documents. The application requires a filing fee and has to be approved by a consular officer at the US embassy. If the RR application is approved, the RR would then have to undergo consular processing - with the exception of providing an affidavit of support. The consular processing would include paying a visa fee and undergoing a medical examination.

If the application is not approved, the person would have to be filed for US residency by a US Citizen spouse, parent, or over-21-year-old son or daughter; or a permanent resident spouse or parent if she is unmarried.

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