Do not abandon your Green Card
This article discusses how to maintain permanent residence in the United States after you obtained a Green Card. It is important to understand that there are several ways in which a USA Green Card holder can lose the lawful permanent resident status (LPR) and it is your obligation as a Green Card holder to make sure you understand the U.S. immigration rules and regulations and take action to preserve your Green Card.
After you become a Green Card holder you maintain permanent residence in the USA until you become a U.S. citizen or you lose or abandon your permanent resident status.
On one hand this means that after you obtained a Green Card you must maintain your permanent residence status to apply for U.S. citizenship and after you become a naturalized U.S. citizen you will no longer be a Green Card holder (lawful permanent resident) but instead you will be a U.S. citizen.
To learn more about the permanent residence requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship please click here.
On the other hand, this also means that after you become a permanent resident of the USA (Green Card holder), you can lose your Green Card if you are ordered removed from the United States or if it is determined that you have abandoned your lawful permanent residence status.
You can abandon your lawful permanent status without intent or knowledge by simply taking trips outside of the United States that are 1 year or more and making no planned arrangements.
Because longer trips outside the US can result in a lawful permanent resident abandoning their status and Green Card, it is important to understand the U.S. immigration laws and take steps to maintain your Green Card even if you have to leave the United States for a longer period of time.
International Travel: Avoid abandonment of permanent resident status and Green Card.
As a permanent resident of the USA you can travel in and out of the United States and temporary and short trips outside the country do not impact your permanent resident status.
However, if you spend a significant time abroad as a Green Card holder, you may be considered to have abandoned your permanent resident status as you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home.
The general rule is that you can travel internationally and stay outside of the USA for 1 year or less without abandoning your permanent immigrant status and losing your Green Card.
However, even an absence of less than 1 year can result in you abandoning your permanent resident status if the officer believes that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence.
While brief trips are usually not problematic, the officer can consider a number of criteria to determine whether you have abandoned your US permanent residence including, without limitation:
- Your intention was to go abroad only temporarily
- You have U.S. family and maintain community ties
- You have a job in the U.S.
- You filed U.S. income taxes with IRS as a resident
- You maintain a U.S. mailing address
- You maintain U.S. bank accounts
- You have and maintain a U.S. driver’s license
- You own property in the U.S.
- You have a business in the U.S.
- Other evidence
A Green Card is not valid to re-enter the USA after a trip outside of the United States of 1 year or more.
A Green Card is valid to re-enter the United States only if you re-enter after a trip of less than 1 year subject to certain exceptions for crewmembers and U.S. military.
In other words, if you have been absent from the United States for 1 year or more than your Green Card is no longer valid and you will need to get another document to come back to the United States, a special immigrant visa or re-entry permit.
In that case, without a special immigrant visa or re-entry permit you will not be able to come back to the United States and you will no longer have a Green Card or be a permanent resident of the United States.
Planned long-term visits abroad: Re-entry permit
Permanent residents who need to travel outside of the United States for 1 year or longer must apply for a Re-entry permit prior to leaving the United States while they are physically present in the U.S. For the re-entry permit, lawful permanent residents must do the biometrics in the United States. The re-entry permit is valid for maximum 2 years and can be sent to a U.S. address or to the U.S. Consulate abroad.
If you remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years, any reentry permit granted before your departure from the United States will have expired. In this case, you should consider applying for a Returning Resident Visa (SB1) at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
There is an exception to this process for the spouse or child of either a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders.
Unplanned long-term visits abroad: Returning Resident Visa (SB1)
Permanent residents who took an unplanned trip outside the United States for 1 year or more can apply for a Returning Resident Visa in order to be able to come back to the United States and not abandon their status and Green Card. In order to get a Returning Resident Visa (SB1) you need to prove that:
- Had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the U.S.
- Departed from the US with intention of returning and still have this intent; and
- Are returning to the US from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was extended, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible
Malescu Law can assist
Our experienced immigration lawyers in Miami, Florida USA can assist you with planning for your trip abroad, prepare and file the re-entry permit and assisting with returning and resident visa. Contact us or book a consultation.
Malescu Law P.A. – Immigration Lawyers