Travel to the US After the Travel Ban: Returning Resident Visas and COVID-19 Travel
With travel restrictions worldwide passing the six month mark and the USA being one of the first countries to instigate a travel ban with its presidential proclamations has meant that US residents were not able to return to the US for six months.
Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and Conditional Permanent Residents (CPRs) who are stuck abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) are experiencing extended absences from the United States and cannot currently travel back.
The general rule is that, if you are a permanent resident, absences from the United States of between six months to one year may mean that you are questioned by the inspecting officer when you try to re-enter the United States. If you are out of the country for more than one year, your absence can be more problematic.
If you can’t return to the US within the required timeframe, you may need to get a US “returning resident visa” from a U.S. consulate or embassy before you travel back to the US.
If you have been outside the US for more than a year, or beyond the validity period of a two-year re-entry permit, you may also require a returning resident visa to re-enter the United States and resume permanent residence.
The returning resident visa is intended for LPRs or CPRs who left the United States with the intention of returning but stayed outside the US due to circumstances beyond your control.
Qualifying reasons for remaining outside the USA for more than one year, or beyond the validity period of a two-year re-entry permit, by an LPR or CPR can include, but not limited to:
- severe illness,
- third-party withholding of passport or travel documents, or
- government restrictions on outbound international travel, like these current restrictions that were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
You must be able to justify your extended absence from the United States due to circumstances “beyond your control” and providing sufficient evidence in support of your continuous desire to promptly resume residence in the United States due to strong and continuous financial, employment, family, and social ties to the US.
If you, therefore, fall into the situation of possibly remaining outside the United States for longer than one year, or beyond the validity period of a two-year re-entry permit, you should be aware of, and bear in mind, the requirement of maintaining and being able to show documentary proof of continuous financial, employment, family and social ties to the United States.
Examples of documents that can help prove your continuous financial, employment, family and social ties could include
- copies of U.S. income tax returns,
- property ownership proof,
- employment documents,
- and any other evidence of family and social ties and any other relevant documentation.
You also want to potentially establish that your original intent of travel outside the US was meant to be temporary.
Because of the inconsistent availability of visa appointment dates due to the slow reopening of U.S. consulates and embassies worldwide, after closures due to COVID-19, you should plan your visa applications sooner rather than later.
The visa application process is essentially similar to that of other immigrant visa applications and also requires a medical examination. Therefore, starting your returning residents visa application sooner is wise. This will help to avoid increasing your time outside the US even further.
What are your thoughts on the US’s travel ban and resumption of visa applications? If you are a person that has been particularly affected by it and have had to stay out of the US all this time, we will like to hear from you. Comment below.
IaM can help with your visa application to the United States, the UK & other countries
If you need help with a US visa, a UK Visa, or visa to Europe, including help with appointment booking obligations, IaM can help.For more information and advice on US immigration, UK immigration law and US visa applications Or If you need any help or assistance please, reach out to your Visa Coordinator at IaM.
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