Jefferson Pitcher / Keri Smith
When the pandemic broke out, Kellismith and her family fled with what they could fit in their car. They spent the last 15 months in a family-friendly cottage in the countryside of Nova Scotia, Canada, where she was born.
Smith and her husband have been fully vaccinated and are ready to return to their home in Northampton, Massachusetts.
“I have a house and my kids go to school,” Smith said in an interview with NPR. “We want to go back to our lives. We are ready. And we can’t.”
Smith’s situation is complicated by the fact that she is not a US citizen. She is a legal permanent resident and has been abroad for over a year, so she can have a hard time crossing the border.
For many Americans, traveling around the world has become easier as COVID restrictions have been lifted. But for immigrants returning to the United States, the situation is completely different. They navigate a variety of complex legal situations when they are about to work, family, or go home. The immigration system it caused and the great turmoil in global travel.
Even green cardholders feel that their residence in the United States may not be as permanent as they thought it would be.
“They have done everything to maintain their residence here. They are paying taxes here,” Allen Orr, president of the American Immigration Bar Association, said in an interview with NPR. “And now we told them, we don’t care about you.”
You may have relinquished your permanent residence if you leave for more than a year without permission
The number of green card holders abroad is not clear yet, but Orr says it’s probably in the thousands.
Some green card holders were driven by concerns about their health. Kerismith said she was particularly worried because she had been diagnosed with mast cell activation disorders and was afraid that her condition could exacerbate the complications of COVID-19.
“I was like,’I need to stay alive through this,'” Smith said. “I was honestly afraid of my life because of my medical condition.”
Other permanent residents have left the United States to take care of their sick loved ones abroad. They didn’t intend to go that long, but couldn’t return due to travel restrictions.
“Suddenly, they faced a situation where they wouldn’t come back,” Seattle immigration lawyer Tahmina Watson said in an interview with NPR. “As months, weeks, and months went by, things only got worse.”
If you are a legal permanent resident, you are supposed to get a permit before leaving the country for more than a year. Otherwise, the Immigration Bureau can conclude that you have abandoned your residence and you could potentially lose your green card.
Permanent residents who have been abroad for more than a year can apply for a special re-entry visa. However, many US embassies and consulates around the world are closed, and the ones that are open have a huge backlog.
Another option is: Appear at the border or airport and defend your case.
Customs officers can afford, but can’t promise
“I’m a little hesitant. I’m afraid. It’s perfectly understandable, but police officers are ready for that,” said Aaron Bowker, a spokeswoman for US Customs and Border Protection.
CBP officials have the discretion to enroll returning Green Cardholders in deportation proceedings if you suspect that you have abandoned your place of residence. However, Bowker says these officers take the pandemic into account.
“What would you do if the airline couldn’t fly here for six or eight months? I couldn’t get back here,” he said in an interview with NPR. “All of this is something we take into account when we re-enter the country.”
According to Bowker, what CBP can’t do is promise that anyone who was abroad during the pandemic can just come back without asking questions.
“Things are handled on a case-by-case basis. It’s very difficult to draw a blanket brush for everyone saying everything is okay,” he said. “It really depends on interviews with executives.”
But immigration lawyers say the situation is creating confusion. Some airlines do not allow green cardholders to board US planes, even though CBP says it should.
“This is an easy situation for the Biden administration to make policies, and during this period, the COVID period, we just ignore this rule. You can go back to the country,” Oh said.
He argues that the situation is disproportionately harmful to color migrants, because they are likely to be scrutinized or turned away at the border.
CBP disagrees with that. According to Bowker, executives are trained to not take race or religion into account when making tolerance decisions and to recognize that some travelers can be stressed by the interview process. I am.
“It’s an unpleasant position to be there,” Bowker said. “Part of our job is to be as comfortable as possible for that person, as there is no real reason not to do so.”
“It feels like gambling” and may seem like no good choice
However, some green cardholders describe encounters with customs officers who are far from welcome.
Yael Sachs says her mother, a green card holder, recently returned to the United States from Israel, where she and Sachs’ father spent most of the past year. They began staying at her home on the outskirts of Seattle with Sax, a naturalized citizen who has lived in the United States for over 20 years.
“They came back as soon as possible, which happened to be the day before my mother left the country a year ago,” Sax said in an interview.
According to Sachs, Chicago airport customs officers were suspicious and wanted to know why their mother had been away from the United States for so long.
“He said,’I need to look into this.’ He left. He was away for quite some time, certainly long enough for my parents to be very nervous. “Sax said. “He’s back. He wasn’t friendly, and he said,” The only reason I let you in is because it’s less than a year’s day. “
If you have a green card, you may feel that you don’t have a good choice. Permanent resident Keri Smith, who survived the pandemic in Canada, said he called the US Consulate in Nova Scotia for advice.
“This guy at the consulate said, well, if I were you, I would just try to cross. That seems to be your best bet,” Smith said. “It feels like gambling, but we’ll see what happens.”
Smith is a best-selling author who has written several books on creativity. Destroy this journal.. So she thinks it’s okay no matter what. But she’s worried about what happens to other permanent residents who can’t afford to hire a good lawyer and can’t risk rolling the dice.
Permanent Residents Leaving the United States During Pandemic Concerns Can’t Return Home: NPR
Source link Permanent Residents Leaving the United States During Pandemic Concerns Can’t Return Home: NPR