On Feb 23 2011 by William A. Stock

Keeping the Green Card You Worked So Hard to Get

I am often consulted by permanent resident clients who have been spending, or are planning to spend, significant time abroad and want to avoid losing their hard-earned permanent resident status.  These clients normally come with one of two preconceptions:

1) As long as I visit the United States at least once every six months, I’ll be fine; or

2) If I leave for any length of time, I’ll put my status in jeopardy.

The actual rules are much more complex and nuanced, but fortunately, can often be used correctly to maintain status for significant periods of residence abroad.

The two most important rules for permanent residents to know are 1) abandonment can be an issue at any time, even where the permanent resident visits the United States each six months; and 2) CBP at the airport cannot actually “take away” permanent resident status (though they can try to cajole/pressure the permanent resident to give it up voluntarily).

If you are planning any significant time overseas, please review our Green Card Holder’s Guide to Travel, Residing Abroad and Preventing Loss of Permanent Resident Status, or have a consultation with one of our lawyers.