Useful information for LPRs (green card holders) during COVID-19

If you are a U.S. lawful permanent resident (LPR) stranded outside of the United States due to COVID-19, you may find the information below useful.  Please note, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate do not set travel policies for lawful permanent residents (LPRs).  U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) retains jurisdiction over the status of LPRs and any request for official guidance should be directed to them.  Unfortunately, USCIS does not have an office in Vietnam.

  • As an LPR, how long can you stay outside of the U.S. without potentially losing residency?

Generally, you can stay outside the U.S. for up to one year. If you have been issued a Re-Entry Permit, which applicants must apply for while in the U.S., you can stay outside the United States as long as your Re-Entry Permit has not expired.  Please note, per USCIS, the abandonment of residency may be found to have occurred on trips of less than a year outside of the United States if is determined you did not intend to make the U.S. your permanent residence. For further information, please see the USCIS website here.

  • Can you apply for a Re-Entry Permit now that you are outside of the U.S. and cannot return?

Pursuant to USCIS policy, you cannot apply for Re-Entry Permit when you are outside of the United States. You must apply for one before you depart the United States. Also, an expired Re-Entry Permit cannot be extended.

  • Will USCIS consider the current COVID-19 situation as an exceptional circumstance and allow affected LPRs presently outside of the U.S. to retain their LPR status?

There has not been an announcement or policy exception issued by USCIS regarding this issue.  LPRs who have stayed outside of the United States for more than one year, or longer than the validity of their Re-Entry Permits, are generally considered to have abandoned their LPR status.

If your case falls under either of these scenarios and you wish to return to the United States, you will need to apply for an SB-1 Returning Resident visa with the Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit.  Please see instructions here.

  • What if your green card is lost or has expired?

You may apply for a Boarding Foil at either the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi or the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City.  Please visit this page and refer to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) pertaining to LPRs.

  • What if there are no flights from Vietnam to the U.S.?

Presently, commercial flights from Vietnam to the U.S. remain available.  The U.S. Mission in Vietnam has compiled a list for U.S. citizens wishing to return to the United States.  LPRs may also use this list for their reference, but all are encouraged to confer with the airlines to confirm flight frequency and availability.  The U.S. Mission in Vietnam is not responsible for any changes in flight availability or associated changes otherwise.

  • What about senior citizen LPRs or LPRs with health conditions who do not wish to return due to the current COVID-19 situation in the U.S., but who wish to retain their LPR status?

Please refer all questions of this nature to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS retains authority to determine the status of LPRs and any request for official guidance must be directed to them.  The U.S. Mission in Vietnam cannot answer these questions or make a formal determination regarding a person’s LPR status. It is recommended you contact USCIS directly with these questions or review resources available on the USCIS website.  Our office is unable to provide advice or guidance regarding what actions an LPR should take.

  • What if you contacted USCIS and have yet to receive an answer?

It is recommend you wait for their answer, and review all the resources available on the USCIS website before taking further action.  Our office is unable to provide advice or guidance regarding what actions an LPR should take. Any questions pertaining to LPR status should be directed to USCIS.