New York Lawyer's Legal Updates

Tips On How To Not To Lose Your Immigration Status At The Time Of Covid-19

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

COVID-19 definitely altered our lives and plans. Now, here I give you help and practical tips that will save you time, money and potentially our Immigration US status.

1. What to Do if You Need to File I 751 or Other Petition to Remove Conditions On A Green Card and Stuck Overseas Due to Coronavirus?

As you may be aware, one who is a conditional resident, will have a green card valid for 2 years only. He or she will need to file a petition to remove those conditions from the green card to receive a 10-year unrestricted green card. If a petition to remove the conditions is a joint I 751 one, there is a deadline to file it: within 90 days of the second anniversary for the green card received. Now, a person is overseas. His or her green card may expire by the time they are allowed to fly and technically they will not be even allowed to board the plane… What to do?

The good news is that the I -751 petition can be filed even when the applicant/petitioner is overseas. A US Immigration attorney can really help here. Luckily, at the current time, USCIS will accept photocopies of the signatures for the filings. Once a receipt for I 751 is received, a person’s green card will be automatically extended for the 18 months from the date of its expiration. A conditional green card holder who will have a receipt for filing of the petition to remove conditions will be able to board the plane and present himself/herself at the US port of entry. An issue of abandonment of resident may arise, together with a public charge issue which will discuss below...

2. What to do if an LPR (green card holder) got stuck overseas and cannot return back to the US within six months?

One an LPR travels overseas and spends there more than 6 months, upon coming back, CBP may allege that the person abandoned his/her US residency. It is true even at the time of the coronavirus. As such, a person coming back to the US from abroad has to be ready with evidence that they did not plan to abandon their US residency: bills they continue to pay, bank accounts, tax returns, and so on. This is true for conditional residents as well. If an LPR is alleged to be seeking admission, he/she should also now be ready with the evidence rebutting the new public charge provision: such as proof of health insurance, employability, funds to support himself/herself in the US, and more! All this evidence can be required at the US border.

3. What to do if you were scheduled to return back to your home country and now you are stuck in the US and your stay is expiring?

For those who cannot leave the US at this time, the plan of action will depend on how they entered the US. If they used a visa waiver program and were admitted to JFK, then they will have to contact JFK CBP secondary inspection within 14 days of the expiry of their allowed stay and request a 30 days extension, Satisfactory Departure. The number to call is 718-553-3684, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm.

For those who were admitted on a visa: they have to file an application for an extension of status with appropriate fees and supporting documents, form I-539 that can be found at

This action will help to avoid the accumulation of unlawful presence time that may result in removal and/or denials of immigration benefits.

If you need help with US immigration questions, reserve your consultation by calling 917-885-2261 or here.

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10 April 2020
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