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Reentry after extended foreign stay

People living in South Carolina who hold permanent resident green cards may find themselves in a situation where they are forced to stay outside of the country for longer than 365 days. Under current immigration law, a green card by itself is not sufficient reentry documentation if the person has been outside of the U.S. for more than a year, so additional steps must be taken.

In some cases, a worker may have traveled outside of the country for business purposes and then suffered a serious and unexpected illness that forced them to stay longer than planned. If the extended stay was due to this or another type of an unforeseen circumstance, the person should be able to return to the country. A U.S. Border Patrol agent may allow the person to return to the country if the stay was based on such medical reasons. However, the decision will be up to the agent.

A better option is for the green card holder to gather the appropriate medical documentation and present it to the U.S. Consulate. With it, an application for a returning resident visa can be made. In most cases, itshould be granted if the extended stay was due to no fault of the applicant.

Business immigration may be a path for people to eventually seek an adjustment of status in order to become a U.S. resident. If they do, they need to be mindful of the rules regarding out-of-country stays. If an illness prevents a return within the one-year period, people should be prepared to apply for a returning resident visa and gather all needed documentation. People who are interested in employment immigration or returning resident visas may benefit by speaking with an attorney who has experience with these matters.

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