US Permanent Resident

US Permanent ResidentUS permanent residents may travel to Thailand for a short visit without losing permanent resident status if they intend to return to the US and make the US their permanent. However, permanent residents should make sure that their green card (Form I-551 Permanent Resident Card) will not expire while they are outside of the US.

While there is no exact rule about how long you can be away from the US without losing permanent resident status, if you will be gone for less than a year you will not have a problem returning in most cases. The date when you become eligible to apply for US citizenship may be delayed if you are away from the US for more than 6 months. If you are outside the US for one year or longer and want to maintain your continuous residency in the US for naturalization purposes, you may file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes.

If you expect to be away from the US for more than one year, you should apply for a re-entry permit before leaving. If you get a reentry permit before leaving the US you can apply for admission into the US at a port of entry, such as the airport, while the reentry permit is valid. You will not need to get a SB-1 returning resident visa from a US Embassy or Consulate in Thailand.  Please note that the reentry permit does not guarantee entry into the US when you return since the immigration officer at the border must determine if you are admissible. However, a reentry permit will help you prove that you intend to permanently live in the US. If you know ahead of time that you will be travelling outside of the US you may wish to apply for a reentry permit when you apply for permanent residence since you must receive the permit before you leave the US for it to be valid.

If you remain outside of the US for more than 2 years, any reentry permit granted before you left will be expired. In this case, you will usually need to apply for a SB-1 returning resident visa at the nearest US Embassy in Bangkok. But you will not need an SB-1 visa if you are the spouse or child of either a member of the US Armed Forces or a civilian employee of the US Government stationed abroad on official orders.  To get a SB-1 visa, you will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and undergo a medical exam similar to the one you received for your initial immigrant visa.  SB-1 visas are available for permanent or conditional permanent residence who were outside of the US for over 1 year or after the expiration of their reentry permit because of circumstances beyond their control, such as a medical emergency. Otherwise, you will have start the immigration process over again and apply for a new immigrant visa.

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Category: US Immigration

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Siam Legal is a full service law firm but it has an extensive range of immigration, corporate, and real estate experience accessible to clients both domestically and internationally. It has offices strategically located throughout the major cities in Thailand including Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Hua Hin, Samui and Phuket along with international representative offices in Australia, London and Las Vegas.

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