People in South Carolina who hold green cards may wonder what will happen if they travel abroad and then can't return for a lengthy period of time due to an unexpected illness. The ability to return to the United States based on residence status is generally only good for a period of 365 days, so longer stays can be more problematic.
There are a couple of things people might be able to do in order to reenter the country in such a situation. They can get a copy of their medical record and try to reenter the country by presenting it to a U.S. Border Patrol agent, although this will be up to the individual agent.
The better method is for the person to take a copy of their medical record to the local U.S. consulate and apply for a returning resident visa. Green cards are not valid reentry documents when a person has been outside of the country for longer than a year. If a person's stay outside of the country was unavoidable, however, they may qualify for a return visa.
People who have loved ones that have been unavoidably outside of the country for longer than a year may want to consult with an immigration law attorney for help. The attorney might be able to help them gather the documentation that will be needed for an immigrant visa. An attorney may also be able to help their clients prevent the potential issue from occurring in the first place by assisting them with the naturalization process. Citizens do not face the problems with reentry after extended stays outside of the country, and citizenship status also bestows many additional benefits. People may thus want to consult with an immigration and naturalization attorney to determine the best approach for them.