Securing a Green Card is long and time consuming process, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Along with those rewards come a set of responsibilities as well.
One of the most important of these is maintaining a permanent United States residency to avoid losing your Green Card.
The USCIS is very particular in the standards it sets regarding residency. These conditions apply until you either complete your naturalization process or you lose or abandon your lawful permanent resident status.
Check Your Eligibility
Whether unintentionally or purposely, if you abandon your permanent resident status, you lose all your Green Card benefits. There are several instances where this may be considered the case.
- If you move to another country and intend to live there on a permanent basis.
- If you leave the United States for an extended time period, unless you work with immigration officials ahead of time to show the reason for your extended absence, how long you intend to be gone from the U.S. and any other circumstances that may affect your time out of the country. It’s best to obtain a returning resident visa ahead of time which will show your intent to return to the U.S. within a specified timeframe.
- If you fail to file United States tax returns while living outside the country for an extended period.
- Declaring yourself to be a nonimmigrant on your tax returns.
Temporary and brief travel outside the United States generally does not impact your lawful permanent resident status. However, upon reentry to the United States, you may be quizzed on your U.S. family and community relationships, whether or not you maintained a job in the country, filed taxes and took any other steps to prove your intent to stay permanently in the United States.
But if you have been out of the United States for more than a year, then the U.S. government is more likely to find that you have abandoned your permanent status and revoke your Green Card. If you plan to be gone from the U.S. for more than one year, officials advise filing for a reentry permit on Form I-131. If you stay outside of the United States for more than two years, the reentry permit will expire.
Another thing to consider is that if you have started the naturalization process, traveling outside of the United States for more than six months could disrupt the requirements of continuous residency as part of naturalization.