U.S. law holds that a resident alien (Green Card holder) MAY NOT stay outside the U.S. for the period of one year without losing his/her legal permanent resident status.
Exception is made for those who obtain a reentry permit from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before departing the United States. Reentry Permit holders can remain outside of the United States for up to two (2) years from the date the permit is issued. Please consult USCIS for more information (1.2MB PDF) on applying for a reentry permit.
Family members of U.S. Armed Forces service members and U.S. Government employees also have limited exemption from these regulations. The time limitation does not apply to the spouse or child of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, or of a civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders. In these cases, the spouse or child must present the resident alien card (Green Card) mentioned above; not have relinquished their residence in the United States; and be preceding or accompanying the member or employee, or be following to join the member or employee in the United States within four months of the employee or service member’s return to the United States.
Returning Resident Visas Green card holders who have been out of the United States for more than one year and wish to return to the United States to reside there may be eligible for a new immigrant visa, known as Returning Resident Visa. You must prove you remained outside the U.S. for reasons beyond your control.
Please consult travel.state.gov for additional information.
You do not have to come to Montreal to submit your returning resident visa application. Any U.S. Consulate in Canada will accept it. You may contact the Consulate near your residence for further details regarding their procedures. If the application is accepted by your consulate, they will forward it by mail to Montreal for processing. We will then provide you further instructions.
If you wish to apply for a Returning Resident (SB-1) immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal you may request an appointment for an interview by using the Public Inquiry Form. The appointments are usually scheduled on Wednesdays between 2-3 PM.