A Re-Entry Permit is One Way of Preserving Lawful Permanent Resident Status.
If you know or believe you will be outside the United States for more than a year, you should apply for a re-entry permit with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) BEFORE you leave. You will need to be physically present in the United States when the application is filed. You will also need to be in the United States for biometrics processing, which is usually scheduled anywhere from several weeks to several months after USCIS receives the application, so plan ahead as much as possible.
What if you did not obtain a re-entry permit before leaving and have remained outside the United States for more than one year because of the pandemic? USCIS has not announced any policy exception regarding this issue. An LPR who has stayed outside of the United States for more than one year, or longer than the validity of their reentry permits, are generally considered to have abandoned their LPR status.
If your situation falls within either of these scenarios and you wish to return to the United States, you will need to consider obtaining an SB-1 Returning Resident visa before traveling to the United States from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are residing.