Plan Ahead to Maintain U.S. Permanent Resident Status While Abroad

If you are a green card holder who will be abroad for a prolonged period of time, you should plan ahead to maintain your lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. It’s a myth the you can preserve LPR status just by entering the U.S. once every 6 months and filing U.S. tax returns. Failure to follow the rules could lead to loss of your LPR status through abandonment and to ineligibility for naturalization. Planning ahead can save time, money, and frustration.

How We Can Help

Schedule an initial consultation with our firm to discuss topics such as:

1. Filing relevant applications, such as:

  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (Re-entry Permit)
  • Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation)
  • Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes
  • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization (perhaps expeditious naturalization if you will work abroad for a U.S. company or its foreign subsidiary)
  • Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence (and dealing with the “overseas hold”)
  • Form DS-117, Application to Determine Returning Resident Status (SB-1 returning resident visa)

2. Establishing evidence of the reason for and temporariness of your departure from the U.S. and stay abroad

3. Planning for what ties to keep in the U.S. while you are gone, what ties to cut, and what ties would be good or bad to establish abroad, such as:

  • Ownership or rental of a home or other real estate
  • Employment
  • Bank, investment, insurance, and credit card accounts
  • Driver’s license
  • Filing a change of address with USCIS

4. Advice about how handling your U.S. federal and state taxes may impact permanent resident status, such as:

  • Foreign-earned income exclusion based on physical presence or bona fide residence abroad
  • Filing as a nonresident
  • Failure to file

5. Plan for how to avoid problems in dealing with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry, including:

  • Choosing a port of entry
  • The impact of entering with other persons
  • Carrying a proper entry document or applying for a wavier
  • Carrying evidence for why you departed the U.S. and stayed abroad, as well as of your ties to the U.S., and perhaps a short legal memo from your lawyer
  • Answering questions that may be posted to you by the CBP officer
  • Anticipating potential problems, such as:
    • Secondary inspection
    • Deferred inspection
    • What if the officer suggests signing Form I-407, Abandonment of Permanent Residence?
    • Notice to Appear for a removal (deportation) hearing

6. The option to apply for naturalization before you depart the U.S., while you are abroad, or when you return to the U.S.

7. Advising you about the eight ways LPR status can be lost:

  • Abandonment
  • Relinquishment
  • Rescission
  • Reversion
  • Removal (exclusion or deportation)
  • Naturalization
  • Death

8. Are there situations where you should consider taking affirmative steps to relinquish your permanent resident status?

Schedule a Consultation

Schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer in Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenyang; or by phone, Skype, WeChat, or FaceTime. We represent clients located worldwide. Our goal is to become your trusted legal adviser.

Further Reading

Issues for Permanent Residents

U.S. Citizenship