Our firm specializes in helping US citizens and Permanent Residents living with their families overseas or seeking to relocate overseas with all their immigration needs. Births, marriages, and new jobs are all causes for celebration, but can also be a cause for a trip to the nearest US consulate to make sure your family’s rights are protected.
Below are some of the common pitfalls and benefits that US citizens and lawful permanent residents living overseas can often encounter. Proper planning can save years (or sometimes even lifetimes) of difficulty and stress.
When a US citizen has a child born overseas, that child is often, but not always, automatically a US citizen at birth. Wrongly assuming your child is a US citizen can lead to serious complications in the future, and even deportation from the US. It is essential that you consult with an immigration attorney to verify and obtain proof of your child’s citizenship as soon as possible after they’re born.
If a lawful permanent resident has a child born overseas, proper planning is vital to avoid lengthy processing times that can sometimes lead to separation and hardship. Visa quotas mean it can sometimes take years for the child of a lawful permanent resident to be granted a visa. However, if the proper steps are taken, children born to a person who is already a permanent resident can travel with their parent to the US without even needing a visa, thereby avoiding both separation and lengthy visa processing.
US citizens, LPRs, and asylees or refugees living in certain countries overseas have access to USCIS overseas offices for processing family petitions for their spouses and children. These offices can process in a matter of weeks the same petitions that can take years to process when filing through USCIS within the US.
Lawful Permanent Residents married to a US citizen who is living and working abroad, may obtain US citizenship without meeting the residency and time requirements of having lived in the US for at least 3 years. Section 319 (b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act creates a process known as “expedited naturalization.” You can even become a US citizen at the same time you get your lawful permanent residency.
The US citizen spouse must be employed overseas by one of these organizations:
Many people wrongly believe the expedited naturalization is only available to those in the military but anyone is eligible so long as they meet the criteria above. The US citizen can even request their employer transfer them overseas and still be eligible for expedited naturalization.
With the proper assistance, an overseas family petition combined with expedited naturalization can truly take someone from having no status, to being a US citizen in a matter of months!
Lawful Permanent Residents who have been outside the US for over 1 year and do not have a reentry permit will have to apply for an SB-1 returning resident visa. To be eligible for this type of visa the resident has to prove they had a valid reason for being outside the US for so long and that they did not intend to abandon their residency. Valid reasons could be caring for a family member who was ill, becoming suddenly ill yourself, or even being trapped by Covid-19 travel restrictions. Issuing returning resident visas is at the discretion of the consulate so where possible you want to plan ahead to avoid this situation by obtaining a reentry permit if you’re planning a long trip.