Maintaining Lawful Resident Status
February 25, 2019By Scott Pollock
You can lose your permanent resident status if you leave the U.S. with the intention of living permanently somewhere else. Since temporary trips outside the U.S. are permissible, what steps can you take to minimize the risk that the U.S. Government would decide that you have abandoned your status? There is no definitive answer. Each case is different and you may require legal advice, especially for longer trips. But here are a few common steps that a green card holder may take to try and maintain their status and be allowed to return to their residence in the U.S.
- Maintain a valid permanent resident card and renew it if it is expiring within 6 months;
- Take only short trips outside the U.S.- the green card serves as a reentry visa for 12 months. Trips of longer than 6 months may generate more scrutiny upon return, and could affect eligibility for U.S. citizenship;
- If a trip needs to last more than a year, obtain a reentry permit that will allow a resident who is not abandoning their resident status to stay outside the U.S. for up to 2 years;
- Even if a trip won’t last a year, applying for a reentry permit can be a statement of your intent to return to your residence in the U.S.
- Maintain any employment, business activity, personal and real property, family, and other ties to the U.S.
- Continue to pay all federal, state, and local income taxes on your world-wide income. Money earned abroad is still taxable to U.S. residents;
- For each trip, have a fixed intended return date and a clear reason for traveling abroad temporarily. If you will be employed abroad, have a contract that sets a fixed duration after which you intend to return to the U.S.
- If you must extend your temporary trip abroad, such as for medical or other emergent personal reasons, document those reasons and prepare to explain why you could not return sooner.
- Beware of taking repeated trips of under six months with only short periods of time in between. The Department of Homeland Security (USCIS, USCBP, and USICE) could find this to be an abandonment. If you are planning to do this, follow the steps above and seek legal counsel.
For more information on this or other immigration matters, please contact our office at (312) 444-1940 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.