Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment

What do you need to do to preserve your status as a lawful permanent resident (LPR)? If you are abroad for 6 months or more per year, you risk “abandoning” your green card. This is especially true after multiple prolonged absences or after a prior warning by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport.

Feb. 1, 2017 update: It’s not clear whether the drafters of Trump’s Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals” overlooked the fact that the entry bar for nationals seven countries (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen) could impact hundreds of thousands of LPRs. The EO was issued without normal interagency review. During the first hours of enforcement of the EO, some LPRs were reportedly denied entry to the U.S. This led to federal court litigation and public outcry. See, for example, these stories in The Atlantic and National Review linking to our firm’s U.S. & China Visa Law Blog. On Jan. 29, DHS Secretary John Kelly and a DHS Fact Sheet awkwardly applied to LPRs the supposedly case-by-case “national interest” exception of the ban, saying that LPRs “traveling on a valid I-551 will be allowed to board U.S. bound aircraft and will be assessed for exceptions at arrival ports of entry, as appropriate.  The entry of  these individuals, subject to national security checks, is in the national interest.” On February 1, 2017, Donald F. McGahn II, Counsel to the President, wrote a memo to “clarify” that the entry ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents. This appears to be a face-saving measure that amends the EO without the embarrassment of actually having Trump sign the amendment. That’s a victory, but LPRs with ties to restricted countries should still be prepared for possibly prolonged and rigorous inspection of your person, luggage, electronic devices, and social media accounts focusing on, among other issues, whether LPR status has been abandoned, religious beliefs, and political views.

1. Introduction

There are many legitimate reasons a green card holder may need to be abroad temporarily, such as if you need to care for an ill family member, take a temporary job abroad, study abroad, or liquidate assets like a business or real estate abroad.

Still, CBP officers at the airport are allowed to question green card holders about whether they have given up (abandoned) their LPR status. The officer may ask questions such as:

  • Where have you been outside the U.S.?
  • For how long?
  • What were you doing there?
  • Why are you coming to the U.S. now?
  • What ties did you keep to the U.S. during your absence?

CBP officers have access to computer records showing your prior entries and exits from the U.S.

If it appears you have abandoned your LPR status and you’re not willing to voluntarily give it up, the CBP officer may refer you to Immigration Court for a judge to determine whether you have lost your LPR status.

The most conservative strategy to avoid abandonment (and to qualify for naturalization, if you wish) is to keep the U.S. as your main home, reducing your absences accordingly–in other words, sleeping more nights in the U.S. than elsewhere. But this may not be practical for everybody.

If you’re going to have more extensive absences from the U.S., what you need is a plan that you can rely on to preserve your LPR status and eligibility for naturalization, if you wish. That plan may well include deepening and documenting your ties to the U.S., clarifying the evidence of the “temporary” purpose of your stay abroad, and maybe applying for a reentry permit. I recommend that you consult with our firm or another qualified immigration lawyer with experience in these cases to draw up and guide you in implementation the LPR status preservation plan.

And if you have already run into serious problems–namely, you have already stayed abroad for over one year straight without obtaining a reentry permit or you have been issued a notice to appear in Immigration Court, you consult with a lawyer about remedying the problem.

2. The Judicial Definition of “Temporary”

There are many myths about how long an LPR can stay abroad. The real rule is that an LPR who makes trips abroad that are not “temporary” loses that status. Unfortunately, there is no specific time limit for what “temporary” means. Here’s the most concise definition of temporary, from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit:

we hold that a permanent resident returns from a “temporary visit abroad” only when (a) the permanent resident’s visit is for “a period relatively short, fixed by some early event,” or (b) the permanent resident’s visit will terminate upon the occurrence of an event having a reasonable possibility of occurring within a relatively short period of time. If as in (b), the length of the visit is contingent upon the occurrence of an event and is not fixed in time and if the event does not occur within a relatively short period of time, the visit will be considered a “temporary visit abroad” only if the alien has a continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to the United States during the entirety of his visit.

3. Is There a “Return Every 6 Months” Rule”?

Yes and no. There is a 6-month rule of a sort: It says that an LPR returning from abroad doesn’t even count as applying to CBP for “admission” (i.e., CBP won’t question his or her qualifications to enter) if he or she meets the following requirements, among others:

  • he or she has been abroad for under 180 days; and
  • he or she has not abandoned LPR status by making a trip abroad that isn’t “temporary.”

My point here is that being abroad for under 6 months (actually 180 days) is one of the requirements but is not enough–the trips abroad must still fall within the judicial definition of “temporary.” The clearest example is the “touchdown” situation: somebody who lives abroad but who briefly “touches down” in the U.S. once every 5 months for vacation. This person has abandoned LPR status so should not be readmitted as an LPR, despite keeping every trip abroad under 6 months.

4. Some Pointers for Keeping Trips Abroad “Temporary”

Since the judicial definition of “temporary” is nebulous, here are some guidelines for avoiding abandonment of LPR status:

  • Being abroad for over 180 days is one (but not the only) way to invite the CBP officer’s scrutiny as to whether you’ve abandoned LPR status.
  • The safest way to avoid abandonment is to ensure that each year you are in the U.S. more than any single other country. For example, if you are in the U.S. 6 months a year, in France 4 months a year, and in Singapore 2 months a year, it is clear that your main home is in the U.S. (Your time in the U.S. doesn’t have to be continuous). This is the basic rule. It comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act’s definition of “residence,” which means one’s “place of general abode” or, in other words, one’s “principal, actual dwelling place in fact.”
  • If you can’t do that, then you should document with clear evidence that your stays abroad are for a clear, temporary purpose and that you have retained ties to the U.S. that–in comparison to your ties abroad–evidence your intent to return to live here once your temporary stay abroad is over.
  • If an LPR has been outside the U.S. more than one year straight, his or her green card (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card) is not valid to reenter the U.S. In this situation, three options include: (a) present a valid reentry permit (discussed below); (b) apply at a U.S. Consulate abroad for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa by convincing the consular officer that the stay abroad was temporary and its extension past one year was beyond your control; and (c) apply to a CBP officer at the port of entry for a “waiver” of the green card requirement by proving that the stay abroad was temporary and that there was “good cause” for not returning within one year.

5. Applying for A Reentry Permit

Our firm often advises clients to consider applying for a reentry permit if either (a) they are likely to be abroad for one year or more straight, (b) they are likely to be abroad for more than 6 months straight for two or more years in a row; or (c) they have been warned by CBP that they are at risk of abandonment.

Residency Abandonment Warning Stamps by CBP
CBP stamps in LPRs’ passports warning that their status is at risk if they make non-temporary trips abroad. Left: “Advised residency requirements.” Right: “Out 5 months, 29 days.”

Unlike the green card, which is valid for return after an absence of up to one year, the reentry permit is valid for up to two years. This is still no guarantee that you will be able to reenter the U.S., however. The reason is that you also have to prove to the CBP officer in the airport you haven’t abandoned your LPR status. If you have in fact been abroad for the same temporary purpose described in your reentry permit application, then it will be presumed that your trip abroad was temporary and you can be readmitted. If, however, your stay abroad was for a different purpose, than you can be referred to a judge to determine whether you’ve abandoned your LPR status.  Many LPRs have been aggressively questioned by CBP officers in the airport on this point.

The USCIS Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, used to apply for a reentry permit is deceptively simple. But many LPRs decide to hire an experienced American immigration attorney because the related procedures and planning required are complicated enough and the stakes are high enough that they want to minimize the risk of denial.

A few key points:

  • The I-131 must be submitted and received by USCIS while you are still in the U.S.
  • You must remain in the U.S. until your biometrics (fingerprints) appointment in connection with the I-131, or you must return to the U.S. for that appointment.
  • In some but not all cases it can be helpful to submit with the I-131 evidence that your stay abroad will be temporary and that you will maintain ties to the U.S. during that stay abroad.
  • To reenter the U.S. with the reentry permit, be prepared to show evidence that the purpose of your stay abroad was consistent with the temporary purpose stated in the I-131, and be prepared to back that up with evidence of the comparative strength of your U.S. ties compared to your ties abroad.

For more, see our law firm’s Guide to Reentry Permits.

6. Proving Ties to the U.S. Outweigh Ties Abroad

If you’ve been abroad for a prolonged period, the CBP officer will recognize that period as “temporary” only if you’ve maintained a “continuous uninterrupted intention to return” to the U.S. during the entirety of your stay abroad. Since it’s hard for the officer to determine what’s been in your mind, the officer will consider the strength of your ties in the U.S. versus your ties abroad to see if the ties are strong enough to infer that you’ve planned throughout to return to the U.S. For example:

  • Where do you own or rent property?
  • If you own or rent property in the U.S., do you have access to it and are your belongings in it, or have you rented it out to somebody else?
  • Where do you work or go to school?
  • Where do your close relatives live?
  • Where do you keep your key assets (e.g., bank accounts, credit card accounts, cars, insurance)?
  • Do you file income taxes each year in the U.S.?
  • Do you have a valid U.S. driver’s license?
  • Have you studied English while abroad?

7. A Note on Taxes

Failure to File

It is very important that LPRs required by law to file U.S. income U.S. tax returns do so while abroad, even if they are not employed by U.S. companies, because failure to file returns may indicate abandonment. LPRs are normally required to file tax returns indicating worldwide income, not just U.S. income. Payment of back taxes later would be weak evidence of continued U.S. residence.

Filing as a Non-Resident

It is also very important that LPRs identify themselves as U.S. residents on tax returns and not as non-residents. If an individual files U.S. tax returns identifying himself or herself as a non-resident, abandonment of LPR status may be found based on this “voluntary admission” of non-residency.

Foreign-Earned Income Exclusion

Certain LPRs living abroad may qualify to exclude from taxable income up to $100,800 of foreign earnings for 2015 ($99,200 for 2014, $97,600 for 2013). The foreign-earned income exclusion (FEIE) is claimed by filing a U.S. income tax return including Form 2555, Foreign Earned Income.

To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  1. Your “tax home” must be in a foreign country. Your tax home is the general area of your main place of business, employment, or post of duty, regardless of where you maintain your family home. Your tax home is the place where you are permanently or indefinitely engaged to work as an employee or self-employed individual. (Generally, “indefinitely” means a tax home expected to last for more than 1 year).  Having a “tax home” in a given location does not necessarily mean that the given location is your residence or domicile for tax purposes.
  2. You must have foreign-earned income. And
  3. You must be one of the following:
    • A citizen or national of a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty in effect and who is a “bona fide resident”  of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire tax year. An entire tax year is from January 1 through December 31 for taxpayers who file their income tax returns on a calendar year basis. For this purpose, “bona fide resident” means staying in a foreign country on a basis that is “indefinite” as opposed to “definite, temporary.” Or
    • Physically present in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 full days during any period of 12 consecutive months.

Claiming the FEIE may be a red flag for purposes of determining whether you have abandoned LPR status.  In particular, filing under the “bona fide resident” prong may be particularly problematic because “bona fide residence” turns on factors including lack of definite intention as to length and nature of stay in foreign country. According to USCIS:

If the legal permanent resident declared himself or herself to be a bona fide resident of a foreign country on IRS Form 2555, that means the alien declared to the IRS that he or she went abroad for an indefinite or extended period. He or she intended to establish permanent quarters outside of the United States and he or she openly declared residence in a foreign country.

In contrast, filing under the “physical presence” test is not in itself problematic because it does not reflect the individual’s intent. Still, it confirms potentially negative facts, i.e., that you have been physically present abroad and have foreign-earned income.

In certain cases, an individual may choose to forego the “bona fide residence” FEIE and pay the tax in order to avoid a red flag indicating potential abandonment.

8. What Will Happen in the Airport if the CBP Officer Suspects Abandonment?

If you attempt to enter the U.S. when are vulnerable to a charge of abandonment, especially if you lack a valid entry document, you need to be prepared with supporting evidence and be ready to answer related questions. The burden is on you to show that you are clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted.  A lawyer can help you prepare. For example, the attorney can help decide the best port of entry, based on factors such as where you live in the U.S., common CBP practices at the port, where you have entered in the past, and what location would be best if an Immigration Court hearing is required. A lawyer may also include prepare a detailed letter that you can provide to CBP with the facts and legal arguments in support of your case. Most importantly, the lawyer can help you prepare for what questions CBP may ask and how to answer in a way that’s truthful and helpful to your case. It may help to fly to the U.S. on a one-way ticket. While an attorney can help you prepare, you don’t have a right for an attorney to be present during inspection at the port of entry.

At a Foreign Airport

CBP’s Office of International Affairs operates an Immigration Advisory Program (IAP) at a number of foreign airports with the mission of intercepting travelers who seek to board flights to the U.S. but are ineligible for admission. CBP officers make “no board” recommendations to airlines and foreign governments, sometimes based on interviews with travelers and baggage searches. This program is in place at airports in

  • France: Paris
  • Germany: Frankfurt
  • Japan: Tokyo
  • Mexico: Mexico City
  • Netherlands: Amsterdam
  • Panama: Panama City
  • Qatar: Doha
  • Spain: Madrid
  • UK: London Heathrow and Gatwick, Manchester

At the U.S. Port of Entry

At the port of entry, CBP could inspect you just briefly after you wait in line, or CBP could take you to a separate office for detailed questioning (called “secondary inspection”). Then CBP would take one of several actions:

  • Admit you to the U.S. (granting a documentary waiver, if necessary).
  • Refer you to deferred inspection, meaning a later appointment with CBP for further investigation.
  • Allow you to withdraw your application for admission and return abroad.
  • Allow you to relinquish your LPR status (voluntarily give up your green card) and be admitted as a nonimmigrant.
  • Issue a notice to appear for removal proceedings in Immigration Court. Notably, CBP does not have the power to take your permanent resident status away. Only a judge in Immigration Court can do that.

8. Keep in Mind the Separate Requirements for Naturalization

Keeping your LPR status and preserving eligibility to become a naturalized U.S. citizen are two very different things with different requirements. The residence-related requirements for naturalization include (but are not limited to):

  • The applicant must have been an LPR for at least 5 years (3 years if living with a U.S. citizen spouse)
  • The applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. for half of that period.
  • The applicant must not have broken the continuity of U.S. residence. Continuity is absolutely broken by a 1 year continuous absence and presumably broken by a 6-month continuous absence. That presumption can be overcome only where there is very strong evidence the absence was intended to be temporary only. Key evidence includes but is not limited to evidence that: (a) the applicant did not terminate his or her employment in the U.S.; (b) the applicant’s immediate family remained in the U.S.; (c) the applicant retained full access to his or her U.S. abode; or (d) The applicant did not obtain employment while abroad.

For more, see Can a Green Card Holder Who’s Been Overseas for 6 Months Apply for Citizenship? Also, read Naturalization for Permanent Residents and Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad to learn about answers to these two questions:

  • Is a lawful permanent resident working for a U.S. employer abroad eligible to file Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes?
  • Is the spouse of a U.S. citizen working for a U.S. employer abroad eligible to apply for “expeditious naturalization”?

Finally, you can read here about some of the advantages and burdens of U.S. citizenship.

 

281 Replies to “Green Card Holders Staying Abroad Over 6 Months Risk Abandonment”

  1. I ran into this situation while living in China. Stayed out for just about one year (short a week or two) and successfully naturalized five months later. I cannot stress the importance of ties back to the US enough- keep bank accounts open, maintain a credit card balance (and make regular payments,) FILE TAXES!!!! Student loan payments would help too. Reentry permits are good.

    In my experience with the DHS, the people on the other end of the phone or other side of the window often do not know the regulations or are unwilling to comment on them. There are however many, many organizations and lawyers (such as Mr. Chodorow) dedicated to helping immigrants with these questions and issues, so keep a lookout for them.

    One last note, I’m Canadian by birth, not Chinese. Your experience WILL vary, but it IS possible to both keep your green card and naturalize on schedule.

  2. I’d appreciate thoughts about whether CBP officers at a particular port of entry (airport) seem to be particularly generous or ruthless in making determinations whether LPR status has been abandoned. How about SFO, LAX, JFK, Newark, Dulles, Sea-Tac?

    1. Gary,
      First we want to thank you for this very very helpful website! It has been refreshing to see something that doesn’t look like a bunch of shut doors in our faces, as we work through this process.
      I am an American citizen, and I work as a preacher of the gospel. My wife is Brazilian, and after living in Brazil with her for several years after our marriage, we then spent nearly 5 years in the U.S. In Jan. 2011, we returned to Brazil so that I could do some Bible teaching and preaching. We had plans to go back after one year and reevaluate our situation, but we were unable to do so — mostly for financial reasons. It is now nearly three years later and we are planning to go back to the U.S. to visit for about 6 weeks in late September through early November. My wife has had a Green Card (IR1) since May 2006, and she didn’t naturalize only because once we thought of starting the process, we wouldn’t have had time to finish in the U.S. before our trip here to Brazil.
      As we plan our trip to visit Brazil — my family has not yet met our newest child, who was born in July 2012 — we find out that she has technically “abandoned” her resident status. We didn’t know the details of this before our trip, so now we are curious about what are our real options. We went to get a travel visa for my wife in Recife, but they could tell she was not intent on giving up her Green Card, so they advised we go to Rio and try to get a renewal. But as we read on the consular site about all this, it seems they will not grant her renewal. Would it be better just to try and return directly — we are travelling with the whole family, including two children 7 and 5 years old and a baby of just over 1 year. Our intention is to go back to the U.S. permanently, but that may not be for another 3-5 years, as determined by the conditions of my work here.
      We have maintained strong ties to the U.S. (A) We own a home there (we are trying to sell it, because we can’t afford the payments while renting here…but we do still own it). There is someone renting it, and our goods are stored at a friend’s home. (B) We have a joint bank account in the U.S., and my wife has credit cards in the U.S. (In Brazil, only I maintain a bank account and credit card). (C) My wife’s sister also lives permanently in the U.S., though the rest of her family continues here. All of my family is in the U.S. (D) We have filed taxes jointly in the U.S. all of the years that we have lived here. (E) My wife has not taken on work or made any other permanent ties to Brazil — she is here as a homemaker, accompanying me only. (In fact, I had to convince her to come back with me!) (F) All of our salary is paid by American churches, so our only financial tie is to the U.S.
      We are curious in all of this as to what your suggestion would be: 1) abandon Green Card, enter as tourist, and try the process again in future once my work here comes to a close? 2) apply for renewal while still here? 3) try to enter directly and apply for a “waiver” based on our continued but “temporary” status with my work here? 4) Some other option that we are not aware of?
      Thank you so much for taking the time to analyze our situation and to help us think through this more clearly.
      Sincerely,
      Carl and Patricia Ballard

      1. Carl and Patricia,

        The fact that Carl is working as a preacher in Brazil jumps out at me.

        Patricia may qualify for naturalization. In short, a person may qualify for expeditious naturalization (without meeting any U.S. residence requirement) if married to a U.S. citizen who is “regularly stationed abroad” and (a) authorized to perform the ministerial or priestly functions of a religious denomination having a bona fide organization within the U.S.; or (b) engaged solely as a missionary with a religious denomination or an interdenominational mission organization having a bona fide organization within the U.S. For more about this option, see Naturalization for Permanent Residents and Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad.

        To qualify for naturalization (if Patricia wants it), she still must prove she hasn’t abandoned her LPR status. There’s a good argument that if Patricia has been abroad in order to accompany Carl while engaged in the above-type activities, then Patricia hasn’t abandoned her LPR status.

        I think it’s worth investigating the above threshold issues before speculating more about whether Patricia has abandoned LPR status. Answers to those questions will help decide what’s the best strategy to get back into the U.S., since Patricia’s green card is invalid as an entry document as she’s been abroad for more than one year straight. Let me know if you’d like to schedule an appointment to discuss in more detail.

    2. I live in Pakistan, and I have been a green card holder since 2009. I am a full-time student up to now, and my studies are finishing in 2015. Then I am moving to the USA permanently. I give this reason to officers every year when I visit, but they take me to seconday inspection for further interrogation. They do let me go, but I fear they might take the green card from me. I have a Social Security number and Selective Service number, but I am going to get driver’s licence next year when I visit. Am I safe? Looking forwad to your reply.

      1. Mustafa,

        See my advice (in the comments section) to LPRs studying abroad. Let me just add: Regarding the your intent to move back to the U.S. when you graduate, what proof do you have? For example, do you have a photo of the room in your parents house in the U.S. that contains your belongings and where you intend to live when you graduate? Or, do you have a resume and W-2s in hand showing that you return to the U.S. every summer to do internships so that you can land a job at the same U.S. company when you graduate? These are just two potential examples of the kinds of evidence that you could show to CBP to try to avoid being sent to secondary inspection and perhaps being referred to an immigration judge to determine whether you’ve abandoned LPR status.

        1. I will go to the U.S. for further studies, but my parents haven’t purchased a home yet. Me and my mother have green cards, but not my father. He wants to purchase a home in the U.S. once I’ve finished my studies and get a job. I haven’t done an internships in the U.S. yet.

          1. So given the facts of your case, you may want to think about what evidence you may have that you intend to go to the U.S. for further studies. Maybe you’ve taken the GRE, applied solely to U.S. grad schools (not any foreign grad school), and already have an offer. That would be pretty good evidence.

            1. I am giving my IELTS exam in February and GMAT in June next year. I have my university ID, social security, and selective service number and I will get a letter from my university proving my student status to the authorities.

  3. I am an American citizen currently staying in Saigon, Vietnam, with my Vietnamese wife of almost three years. We are taking care of her elderly, 92, mother who requires 24-hour care at home.
    In fact, she was near death when we came here Aug. 10, 2012 and could expire anytime.
    My wife received her Greencard on 4/17/2012, but is a CR1 resident, meaning we need to adjust her status in early 2014. So, that means we need to return to US no later than July 30,2013 to avoid being out of the US for over a year.
    My question is: what proof do we need to show the POE immigration officer to show that we never meant to abandon her residence in the US and pursuit of citizenship.
    What is your advice.
    Sincerely,
    Rick Works

  4. Rick,

    I’m sorry that your mother-in-law is in poor health. It’s good that your wife is able to care for her. I understand that your wife is a conditional resident, left the U.S. in Aug. 2012 to care for her mom, and is planning to return to the U.S. within a year of departure. You ask what evidence is needed to prove that your wife’s absence from the U.S. is just “temporary.”

    Caring for an ill relative is often mentioned as the purpose for a lawful permanent resident’s (LPR’s) travel abroad. In such cases, the government often wants to know whether death or recuperation could reasonably be expected to end the need for staying abroad within a relatively short period. If the answer is no, then the government often wants to know more about what’s the permanent resident’s plan to return to the U.S. In other words, if the illness is not likely to be temporary, how is the permanent resident’s stay abroad temporary?

    For example, in a case where an LPR stayed abroad 6 years to care for her mother’s illnesses before she died and another three years to care for her depressed father, the court determined that the LPR’s stay abroad wasn’t temporary because it wasn’t contingent on events that could reasonably be expected to occur within a relatively short period.

    In another case, an LPR stayed abroad for five years to care for her mother who had been hospitalized for a perforated ulcer. At the end of the five years, the LPR’s sister separated from her husband and took charge of the care. The court opined that these events had a reasonable possibility of occurring within a relatively short period of time so the stay abroad was “temporary.”

    In such cases, important evidence may include medical records proving the illness and its temporary nature, evidence of the permanent resident’s role in providing care, any other evidence that the LPR’s stay abroad is intended to be time limited.

    At the same time, evidence of continued ties to the U.S. of the types listed in the above article can be helpful to show that the LPR has something in the U.S. to return to.

    On the separate issue of whether the stay abroad of over 6 months but under 1 year may impact naturalization eligibility, I’ve edited the above article to add a bit more detail.

    As always, this blog is just a general overview, so seek legal advice about the specific facts of your case.

  5. I am a US citizen and my husband is Canadian and is a green card holder for 7 years. We came to Mexico last July 2012 to renovate our vacation home and sell it. The MX immigration changed their laws and we had to apply for our visas to sell our MX house. Our house closing is August 31st which puts my husband beyond the year mark. My husband could not leave MX until he got fingerprinted and this process took 4 months. He had to get a letter from the Mx government to allow him out of the country for only 2 months. If he leaves without this letter since he doesn’t have his MX visa yet, we won’t be able to sell our house since his name is on the deed. Our intent was to sell and go back up to the US. We did not know it was going to take this long. We have bank accounts, did US taxes, have utility bills and US driver’s license to prove we did not intend to move out of the country. We completed the DS-117 and I-191 form and called USCIS in MX and talked to a person there. She told us since it had not been a year he did not have to fill out those forms and to just fly into the US and spend a few days and go back to MX so we can close on this house. She then said that this starts the 6 months process all over again. She told us to bring all the documents that will show why he was out for so long and to also show US ties, which we have. She even said he did not have to fly all the way back home which is in NH. My husband is flying back up to NH this month which puts him at 11 months out of the country, but he is going to have to fly back when the 2 months are up. I can’t fly out with him because I have to wait for my fingerprints and letter to fly out. We are worried that customs at the connecting airport are going to give him a hard time and take his visa.

  6. @ Suzanne: You mention that your LPR husband is returning to the U.S. after an absence of 11 months. It appears from your post that your husband’s stay abroad has been temporary–to renovate and sell a vacation house. It also appears that you have some evidence of ongoing ties to the U.S., such as bank accounts and property. Nevertheless, your concern is that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry may refer your husband to Immigration Court for removal (deportation) proceedings on the basis that he has abandoned his LPR status.

    This is a situation where you may wish to consult with an immigration lawyer. The lawyer can help you evaluate how great the risk of abandonment is and, if it is substantial, how to reduce the risk by planning such things as (a) which U.S. port of entry to use, (b) whether to travel to the U.S. with a one-way or round-trip ticket, (c) what documentary evidence of your husband’s temporary purpose abroad and continued ties to the U.S. to carry, and (d) what questions to expect from the CBP officer and how to respond. Good luck!

  7. Hello, I have a question regarding what would happen to my LPR status and if my progress towards naturalization. I moved from Argentina to the US in September 2000 and have been living here since. I received my green card in September 2010 and I am leaving in a week to go do my Masters back in Argentina. I wont really have an option so I will be away for a little bit more than 6 months, (6 months and 3 weeks to be exact.) Will I require a re-entry permit considering I will be away for slightly more than 6 months and will CBP revoke my entry due to this extended stay. I read that it is under a year so I should be fine in the USCIS site, however, my Masters will last two years so I will be coming back for a month every 6 months when I am off from school. This is the only time I will be away for more than six months as I plan to come back every 5 months afterwards.

    Furthermore, will this extended stay affect my progress towards naturalization. In september, it will have been 3 years since I have had my green card. Could this affect the 5 year progress?

    Thank you very much for your time.

  8. @Gaston: Good luck with your two-year master’s degree program in Argentina. That’s sounds like a clear, temporary purpose for being abroad. But for the evidence to back up your claim that your stay abroad is merely temporary, you’ll want to document that you plan to return to the U.S. upon completion of your educational program. See the above discussion about “Proving Ties to the U.S.” If your ties to the U.S. aren’t particularly strong, you may want to consider obtaining a reentry permit as evidence of your intent to return to reside in the U.S.

    On the separate question of whether your time abroad may impact your eligibility for naturalization, I mentioned above that there are (at least) two requirements to keep in mind:

    1. You must have been physically present in the U.S. as an LPR for half of the 5 years immediately before filing for naturalization. You’ll need to count your days.

    2. You must not break the “continuity” of your U.S. residence. There’s a legal presumption that continuity is broken by a 6-month continuous absence. That presumption can be overcome only where there is very strong evidence the absence was intended to be temporary only. Key evidence includes but is not limited to evidence that: (a) the applicant did not terminate his or her employment in the U.S.; (b) the applicant’s immediate family remained in the U.S.; (c) the applicant retained full access to his or her U.S.; or (d) The applicant did not obtain employment while abroad. Again, for purposes of continuity, your status as a student abroad is helpful to proving temporariness, but your ties to the U.S. are important too.

    Good luck! You’ll may want to get legal advice on these matters, or at least refer for further details (e.g., the state residence requirement for naturalization) to resources at uscis.gov.

  9. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

    First, I want to thank you for your wonderful website. You literally saved us from making a wrong decision.

    Now we have an additional question.
    My parents got green card in July 2010
    left US in August 2010
    came back to US Feb 2011 (stayed outside 5.5 mo)
    Then they left again August 21 2011
    and they came back Jan 2012, so they stay outside US 5 months.
    However, during entry to US CBP officer warned them they may lose their green card in future (did not mention re-entry permit) and in their passport stamp was placed with note “out 4 months” and nothing else.
    Since they came back Jan 2012 that they did not leave US. Now after living in US for ~ 16 months they plan very short 4-day bus tour to Canada with tourist group (Canada is not their birth country). Did I understood correctly that, even with CBP officer warning in past, they do not need re-entry permit for such a short tourist trip (Re-enrtry permit will cost more than a trip itself)

    Also, they consider longer trip for around 2 months to Russia (homecountry) and for this I guess they need re-entry permit, even for such short trip, correct? It does not seems they have a problem with their continious residence for naturalization purposes though. But how their absences from US affect their chances to pass citizenship interview? Will this planned 2-month trip to Russia make any difference?

    Thanks again for your time

  10. Igor,

    If I understand your comment, your parents are going on a four-day bus tour of Canada. You ask if your parents need a reentry permit for that trip. I can’t imagine any CBP officer determining that a 4-day visit to a 3rd country isn’t “temporary.” So that won’t endanger their LPR status.

    Nor would a SINGLE 2-month trip to Russia be the kind of situation where CBP would question whether your parents have abandoned LPR status.

    Two caveats:

    1. Note that if your parents had previously abandoned their LPR status by making a non-temporary trip abroad but are now returning from a “temporary” trip the CBP could refuse to admit them as returning residence on the basis they had PREVIOUSLY abandoned LPR status. I don’t see this as a danger based on the facts you’ve told me.

    2. Don’t focus on just a single trip abroad. Look at the larger pattern. The test for whether a trip abroad is whether your parents are returning to their “residence” in the U.S., meaning their principal home, where they sleep more nights than in any other country.

    Finally, as to citizenship eligibility, a 2-month absence won’t itself interrupt the required period of continuous residence in the U.S. As mentioned abroad, only a an absence of 6 months will do so. But make sure your parents also meet the physical residence requirement.

    Regards,
    Gary

  11. Sir,

    I am an LPR. Entered US October 02, 2012. Worked in Bon Aire Motel as a temporary Manager for only 2 months. April 24 i departed for my country Philippines for a vacation and my return ticket for US is September 15, 2013. This is less than 5 months. Will i encounter any difficulty with CBP? Wait for your advise. Thanks and More Power.

    Alex

  12. Alex,

    I understand the basic facts: you entered the U.S., stayed for 6 months (working for 2 months), and left for what you plan to be a 5-month “vacation” in your home country. You’re wondering if you will be charged by CBP with having abandoned your LPR status.

    Your risk seems low because (a) a trip abroad of under 6 months is less likely to trigger CBP scrutiny as to whether you’ve abandoned LPR status, as explained above; and (b) since becoming an LPR, you will have “resided” in the U.S., meaning that you will have spent more nights sleeping in the U.S. then abroad.

    One point of caution relates to the above court’s definition of temporary: if your stay abroad is prolonged, you must have “a continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to the United States during the entirety of [your] visit.” I could imagine a scenario in which a CBP officer could thing that 5 months is an awfully long “vacation” and begin to worry about whether you’ve actually moved abroad. You can disprove that by providing evidence of the sort mentioned above (a home, bank account, etc.) that during your time abroad you maintained ties to the U.S. making it clear that you intended to return.

  13. Sir,

    Do i have to show to CBP at the Port of Entry my Debit Card Bank of America eventhough my stay in the Philippines did not exceed 6 months? Or a deposit slip from my former employer will satisfy CBP? I left my debit card in the US with my daughter because to avoid penalty it must have a deposit every month or i will be penalize by the bank. Wait for any comment. Thank you.

    alex

  14. Sir,
    We know for a fact the victory last Sept 26, 2012 in the 9th Division Appelate Court RE Retension of Priority Dates / Automatic Conversion, which was appealed by USCIS for review in the US Supreme Court.
    I have a son and a daughter which are unmarried but age- out so they were unable to go with us in the US.
    I am thinking if it is advisable for us to File now Form 1-130 for them for them to have now a priority date. Can i request USCIS to have our original priority date of July 1988, or wait for the decision of the Supreme Court before filing Form 1-130? Hope to be clarified on this concern. Thank you.

    alex

  15. First I want to thank you for the great website!!
    I am a US Citizen and my parents got a Green Card through me… They are out of the US for more than 1 year now and they already got tickets to come back to US in 3 weeks… My Mom went to Brazil to do a plastic surgery (my Dad went with her), things went bad, my Mom almost died and had so many issues and couldn’t travel… They didn’t get a re-entry permit before because they didn’t know that was going to happen… She has all the exams proving that she was sick etc… I am very scared!! What do you think it’s going to happen??

  16. Joice,

    You mention that your parents have been abroad for over one year straight, presumably without a reentry permit. So, as I mentioned above, their green cards are not valid to reenter the U.S., even though on their face they are not expired.

    See the section above on “What Will Happen in the Airport if the CBP Officer Suspects Abandonment?”

    In this situation, the options may include: (a) apply at a U.S. Consulate abroad for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa by convincing the consular officer that the stay abroad was temporary and its extension past one year was “beyond their control”; and (b) apply to a CBP officer at the port of entry for a “waiver” of the green card requirement by proving that the stay abroad was temporary and that there was “good cause” for not returning within one year.

    Your mom’s unexpected medical issues may count as “beyond her control” or “good cause,” depending on the specific facts and available proof. Follow the link above for more information about SB-1 returning resident visas. And consider hiring a qualified immigration attorney to help decide on which strategy to use and how to pursue that strategy.

  17. My wife is from Australia and she left the US about 4 years ago to attend Med School in Australia. She is now finishing up Med School. Before leaving she forgot to tell Immigration that she was leaving for a long period of time. Her Green card has now expired. How do we go about getting it re-newed? And getting her back in the USA when she completes school. She would like to come back to the US at the end of this year but will also be heading back for 1 year of residency.

  18. Robert,

    Assuming your wife’s green card was valid for 10 years (not 2), then she can still board a plane to the U.S. with the expired green card. It’s worth calling the airlines first to confirm they’ll allow it.

    However, since she’s been abroad for over a year straight, her green card won’t be valid for purposes of entering the U.S. (It’s not an option to apply for an SB-1 visa because her stay abroad hasn’t been “beyond her control.”)

    Yet she may apply to a CBP officer at the port of entry for a “waiver” of the green card requirement by proving that the stay abroad was temporary and that there was “good cause” for not returning within one year.

    In the alternative, assuming you are a U.S. citizen, depending on the timeline for your wife to return to the U.S., it may be an option for you to begin the process for her to immigrate all over again. This starts with filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

    This case will take substantial planning. I recommend you hire an attorney to assist.

  19. Sir,
    I am a green card holder and we migrated to USA last Nov. 28, 2012. I’ve been here in California for 7 months now.
    Before we left, I was about to graduate (only 1 semester left) in the Ph from my bachelor’s degree but our visa came in early so we had to leave. Hence, I filed a leave of absence in the University that I attend and plans to go back by October this year to finish my remaining semester. It will take me six (6) months to finish my studies and finally graduate. I plan to still take the licensure examination there and that will take me an additional two (2) months atleast. With my situation, is it advisable to apply for a re-entry permit? in order not to lose my green card? I would appreciate your advise Sir.
    Thank you very much for your time.

  20. If some one stays less than 180 days out of US and has citizen wife,son and daughter living in US. Has rented apartment in US. joint bank accounts,cars registration and title and state ID,utility bills.Filing joint IRS Tax returns every year.Is green card in jeopardy at the time of entry?

  21. Neveen,

    Sounds like you have strong ties to the U.S. (family, apartment, assets, tax returns). What about your employment? This is a key tie that the officer may want to know about.

    Your main question is whether you are bullet-proof if you’ve been outside of the U.S. for fewer than 180 days. Unfortunately, the answer is “no.” The clearest example is the “touchdown” situation: somebody who lives abroad but who briefly “touches down” in the U.S. once every 5 months for vacation. This person has abandoned LPR status so will not be readmitted as an LPR.

    So to analyze your own case, think about how your case is different from a “touchdown” case. Why were you abroad this time? Why are you returning to the U.S. this time? And think of not just your most recent absence from the U.S. but the broader pattern of your travels.

    Regards,
    Gary

  22. Paola,

    Returning abroad to finish your last semester of a bachelor’s degree program certainly sounds like a “temporary” trip. Many people who are granted immigrant visas to the U.S. need to return abroad for a period of time to finish up school or a work project, or to sell a business, a house, or other assets.

    Still, the CBP officer will consider the totality of the facts in deciding whether your stay abroad is temporary. For example, why do you want to apply for a foreign professional license if you plan to live in the U.S.? Do you plan to work abroad? What U.S. ties will you leave behind when you are in the foreign country?

    As mentioned above, there are two common circumstances when we advise clients to apply for a reentry purpose: (a) they are likely to be abroad for one year or more straight, or (b) they are likely to be abroad for more than 6 months straight for two or more years in a row. It appears that neither situation applies to you.

    So our firm would probably advise you to apply for a reentry permit only if the other evidence that your stay abroad is temporary is particularly weak, if you have strong ties to your home country, and/or if you have weak ties to the U.S. The advantage of applying for a reentry permit in this situation is that it is one piece of evidence that your intended stay abroad is temporary. This is a cost-benefit analysis. You may want to consult with an immigration attorney.

  23. Thanks for answering my query. I forgot to add certain facts in my initial comments. I am a medicine doctor .I am 62 years old and I retired due to health. I stay in US for 7 months of a year.

  24. My wife has been a LPR for the past 7 years. Within the last few months her U.S. employer opened a division in China. She has now been offered a management position over the China division. She wants to accept the position but will need to be in China for almost 2 years while the new division gets established in the marketplace. My son and I also intend to move there for approximately 1-1.5 years of the 2 years. We are concerned that she may be deemed to have abandoned her LPR and we also do not want her to lose her eligibility to become naturalized. We will keep our home here in the U.S. but I will probably wind down my business while we are away and simply reopen once we come back to the U.S. Would filing her N-470 along with an I-131 help alleviate these issues? Is there anything else we should consider so that we can maintain her LPR status and ability to naturalize?

  25. David,

    I recommend your wife consult with an immigration lawyer to discuss issues related to citizenship and preserving permanent resident status (e.g., wording of the contract/assignment abroad, whether an N-470 is an option, whether applying for a reentry permit would be useful, whether your wife or the employer will bear related costs, how to preserve ties in the U.S., etc.)

    By the way, the N-470 is only an option if the company counts as an American firm or corporation. Specific rules must be applied to determine whether it counts as American. And while an approved N-470 will preserve continuity of “residence” for naturalization purposes, it doesn’t preserve “physical presence,” so may or may not suit your wife’s needs.

    And depending on the facts, since your wife has been an LPR for 7 years, she may qualify to apply for naturalization now.

  26. My step-son is a LPR. He has been out of the USA for 3 years. Previously he stayed out for over 2 years and was allowed back in however it was a very trying ordeal to get him back in. We wound up missing our connecting flight because of it. At the POE they told him if he stays out again for over 1 year without a re entry permit in place he will not be allowed back in. Anyhow again he has been out of the USA this time for 3 years and is going to try to come back to the USA. He will be traveling alone this time, he is now 20. He has decided that he is going to tell the CBP @ the POE he has only been out of the US for 8 months. He went and got a new passport so according to him they wont see his entries and exits from the USA. I have been going crazy here trying to tell him not to do that. That yes CBP has a way to see your prior departures from the USA. But he is not listening. I am the sponsor of the LPR he received. Please tell me I am not crazy ok, this is a very bad idea correct?

  27. Karen,

    You are correct that your son should not lie to CBP about how long he’s been abroad. A willful misrepresentation of a material fact could lead CBP to determine that your son is permanently “inadmissible,” meaning barred from entering the country. The best support you can give your son is that you can arrange for him to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine the best strategy for seeking readmission to the U.S. Otherwise, when he’s at the airport, CBP may issue him a Notice to Appear for removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge to determine whether he has abandoned his permanent resident status during his 3 years abroad (and, if he’s not careful, whether he’s also inadmissible for misrepresentation). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  28. Dear Mr. Gary,

    I became a Permanent Resident since 2 years ago, through US annual lottery (DV1). It’s not easy for Green Card holders through lottery to start a new life in the US like the other type of Green Card holders (through marriage or work). I am not able to find a job and/or a place to live.

    I want US to be my home all the year and I don’t want to leave it, but I can’t afford it without a job. Since I got the Card I’ve kept traveling outside the US and coming back every 5 months. I Never stayed outside the US more than Six months.

    When I’m in the U.S., I stay in a hotel. When I’m in my home country, I look online for U.S. jobs. I don’t work in my home country.

    What’s your thoughts about my case?

    1. Rick,

      I sympathize with your situation that diversity visa lottery winners like yourself may find it more difficult to live in the U.S. because prior to immigration you may not have an employer or relative in the country.

      Your question is, essentially, whether your stays abroad count as “temporary” where you come to the U.S. for about a week once every 4-5 months to look for a job and stay the rest of the time abroad to save money.

      Basically, you’re living abroad but visiting the U.S. periodically, although you intend to change that if and when you find a U.S. job. If you look at the Ninth Circuit’s definition of “temporary,” you’ll see that the question is whether you finding a U.S. job is an “event having a reasonable possibility of occurring within a relatively short period of time.” I have no idea how likely you are to find a job within a relatively short period of time. That would depend on factors such as your education and experience, what types of job you are looking for, how the job market is doing, and how diligent you are in seeking a job (for example, are you calling U.S. employers and sending out resumes daily?)

      Since there can be differences of opinion among CBP officers as to whether there’s a “reasonable possibility” of you finding a U.S. job within a “relatively short period of time,” that means you are at risk of being issued by a CBP officer a notice to appear for removal proceedings before an immigration judge. To reduce that risk, you may wish to take steps such as applying for a reentry permit, collecting clear evidence of your diligent job search, and documenting your ties to the U.S. Talk with an immigration attorney about the best strategy for you.

  29. Hello,
    I am a LPR, citizen of Spain, I have already applied for 3 Re-Entry Permits, my 3rd one is going to expire in about 6 weeks. I do plan to re-enter the US in about 6 months (5-6 months after Re-Entry Permit expiration, and 2 1/2 years after the last time I entered the US). Do I risk losing my Green Card? Should I re-enter the US before expiration of the Re-Entry Permit and apply for another one? Ist it possible to apply a 4th time for a Re-Entry Permit after expiration of the older one?

    Thank You

    1. Clive,

      You’re in a stronger situation if you enter the U.S. before your reentry permit expires.

      It’s very risky to enter the U.S. if you’ve been outside the U.S. for 2.5 years and your reentry permit has already expired. The reason is that you have no valid entry document. A Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card (green card) is not valid for entry if you’ve been abroad for one year or more.

      If you can’t enter before your reentry permit expires, you’ll need to choose between applying for an SB-1 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad or applying to CBP at a port of entry for a waiver of the document requirement. I strongly recommend you seek advice from an immigration attorney to help.

      As to whether you can apply for a fourth reentry permit, there’s no limit on the number of permits you may receive. However, you need to prove that you are abroad for a “temporary” purpose, as defined above. Plus, once you’ve been outside the U.S. for 4 of the last 5 years, a subsequent permit will be issued only in a one-year increment.

  30. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

    My mother immigrated to the US and got her green card(through family reunion) in November 2012 and has been living with me since then(I am US citizen).She has active bank account, California ID although she doesn’t work due to poor health. In June 2013 she got her reentry permit(or passport). In September 2013 she is planning to go to Russia for about 7 month. Do you think she will have problems entering the US in airport? Thanks.
    P.S. An immigration lawyer advised her to fly to LA through NY because the officers in NY are nicer than in LA:). I am not sure if that’s true though:)

    1. Serguei,

      You’ve outlined your mother’s ties to the U.S. (living with U.S. citizen son, bank account, no job). If a CBP officer questions your mother, the officer may want to compare the strength of those U.S. ties to the strength of her ties abroad. See the above list, “Proving Ties to the U.S. Outweigh Ties Abroad.” Also, the officer may want to know why she’s been abroad. If you want to provide this additional information, I may be able to comment further.

  31. Thank you so much for you comment! My mother will go to Russia to see relatives. Also maybe to see some doctors because its cheaper over there than here.

    She is Russian citizen, she has house in Russia. Her son, my younger brother, lives there.

    1. Serguei,

      You say that your mother wants to go to Russia to see friends and the doctor, which sounds like a temporary purpose.

      But your mom’s ties to Russia seem stronger than to the U.S. Although she has one son in each country, she has a home only in Russia.

      You say she wants to go to Russia for 7 months. This could create the impression that she has abandoned the U.S. as her main home. The easiest solution is to spend over 6 months each year in the U.S.

      Barring that, you need to consider the more extensive work of strengthening her ties to the U.S. and documenting that her stays abroad are temporary.

  32. Hi Mr. Chodorow,

    My mother, a US citizen, facilitated a green card for my father when they married. They subsequently divorced and he moved back to Haiti and did not return to the US for 33 years. He recently traveled to the US and wants to restore his LPR status as he wants to stay in the US and petition for his children to come to the US. USCIS denied his application stating that he abandoned his status. He was told he could refile and it would only take 3 months for his green card to be restored. Is this true and how would we proceed?

    1. Tammy,

      Sounds like your father abandoned his LPR status by being absent from the U.S. for over 30 years. He needs to start again the process of applying for a green card. He’ll need a petitioner–a U.S. citizen relative or employer. Are you a U.S. citizen? Do you live in the U.S.?

  33. Thanks for your response. Yes I am a citizen and live in the US. How long will the process take since he had one already.

    1. Tammy,

      Your father can immigrate as an “immediate relative,” i.e., the parent of an adult (age 21 or more) U.S. citizen. Generally this takes 6-18 months. A more specific estimate is possible with further facts.

      The timing of the new application probably will not be impacted by your father previously having a green card.

  34. Hi Mr. Chodorow,

    I’m so glad that I found your website and found someone who’s very willing to answer our questions to the best that you can.

    My concern is this: I recently migrated to the US, got my green card and stayed for roughly 3 months already. I am planning to temporarily go back to our home country for a vacation and on the side to help out a very close friend establish a business in early child education. I am a preschool teacher by profession. It’ll be approximately more than a year and less than two years that I plan to be out of the USA…I’d be under my friend’s employment, but on a “voluntary” basis…

    I have knowledge of the reentry permit. My question would be- what will be the best purpose or intent I should placed in my application for a reentry permit for it to be approved by the concerned department? Will I be allowed to enter USA at the port of entry since I don’ have strong economic ties in the US yet as far as employment is concerned, no bank account, no properties and yet I have strong social ties though: my parents who are US citizens are living here and some relatives. I am single and the only one left unmarried in the family. Most of my siblings are living abroad, too. Will the latter factors be sufficient enough for me to be allowed re entry in the US? Considering that I don’ have strong economic ties, yet socially, I do have? I really don’t have plans of abandoning my status as an immigrant.

    Hope to hear from you. I look forward to what you will have to say in this matter. Thank you.

  35. Marlin,

    Sounds like your a new green card holder with minimal U.S. ties planning to go abroad for temporary employment for a foreign company lasting 1-2 years. Definitely consider applying for a reentry permit. See what you can do to strengthen your U.S. ties. And most importantly, document that this is “temporary” employment.

    Taking permanent or open-ended employment abroad is a strong sign of abandonment of LPR status. However, temporary employment abroad may qualify as a temporary purpose. The best evidence that employment is temporary may be a written employment contract with an express termination date and goals that can clearly be accomplished in a temporary period, such as a specific business project or opening a new office or branch abroad. It may also be helpful to have paychecks directly deposited to a U.S. bank account.

    Weak or contradictory evidence as to whether an overseas job is temporary can doom a case. For example, a woman was found to have abandoned her LPR status where she accompanied her husband to Japan, where he signed a five-year employment contract and undertook a Ph.D. program. The woman initially testified that the family would return to the U.S. upon completion of the employment contract, but that was contradicted by a letter from her husband that he intended to remain in Japan to complete the Ph.D. program. The Board of Immigration Appeals held that the record “has not shown a clear demarcation” as to when the husband would return to the U.S.

    Courts will also consider why the individual sought employment abroad. In one case, a man who had recently completed a computer science master’s degree claimed he went abroad temporarily because he was unable to find work in his field and had mounting debt. He signed a two-year contract with a foreign university and renewed it twice. He claimed that he returned to the U.S. to look for work but couldn’t find it and that he maintained membership in several professional organizations. The court affirmed the agency’s decision to ignore the man’s “self-serving” testimony that he had been looking for a job because he presented no supporting evidence. The court affirmed the agency’s finding that the man intended to work indefinitely with the foreign university.

    Good luck! Needless to say, I recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before you go abroad. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    1. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

      Thank you so much for the prompt reply! You’ve helped me and others decide objectively with our concerns. More power to you!

  36. Hi everybody,

    I am a permanent resident (green card holder), and I plan to work overseas for an American company for 3 years. I own a house in the U.S., which I plan to keep. I will also continue to pay taxes in America. My wife will come with me and she will not work. Is there a risk that we’ll learn our green cards?

    1. Dan,

      First, see my advice above to Marlin about helpful evidence to prove that your employment abroad is temporary, not open-ended. And, as I told Marlin, document your continued ties to the U.S. and consider applying for a reentry permit.

      Second, unlike Marlin’s proposed employment for a foreign company, you say that your employment will be for a U.S. company. Even indefinite employment abroad may be considered temporary. According to the leading case, Matter of Kane:

      The traveler should normally have a definite reason for proceeding abroad temporarily…; examples are … indefinite employment abroad when assigned by one’s United States employer, Matter of Wu, 14 I. & N. Dec. 290 (RC 1973), Matter of Manion, 11 I. & N. Dec. 261 (DD 1965).

      The facts of Matter of Manion are striking. At the time he was granted LPR status, he had been employed abroad for a U.S. corporation for about 15 years. Just 4 days after obtaining LPR status, he applied for and was granted a reentry permit to continue that work abroad. The district director held that it had been error to deny him a new reentry permit five years later because his work abroad was “temporary” even though it was indefinite. (He “hopes” to return to the U.S. when “it is possible.”).

      The facts of Matter of Wu are also illustrative. He had worked abroad for about 4 years after becoming an LPR, and he had no timeline to return to the U.S. except that it would be “upon termination of his assignment abroad.” His work involved the development of foreign trade and commerce of the U.S. Notably, he had an approved Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, under section 316(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. An approved N-470 allows the applicant to meet the requirement of “residing” in the U.S. or naturalization even though employed abroad by a U.S. employer. In Matter of Wu, the regional commissioner concluded that such employment also counts as “temporary” for purposes of preserving LPR status because it would be inconsistent to hold that it preserves naturalization eligibility but not LPR status:

      one purpose of section 316(b) was to benefit an American firm engaged in developing international trade by permitting its lawful permanent resident aliens to retain the continuity of their residence for naturalization purposes while employed abroad by such firm. It is inconsistent with the objectives of section 316(b) to hold that an alien who has been found eligible for the benefits thereof has lost his status as a permanent resident solely because of his extended absences abroad in the employment of the American firm.

      If your employment abroad counts as “temporary,” then by extension your wife’s stay abroad should count as “temporary” too, to the extent that she is abroad solely for purposes of accompanying you and preserving family unity during your overseas assignment.

  37. Hello Mr. Chodorow,

    My husband and I are Brazilians and also an American Citizen, we have three children, one was born in America, and my daughter is also an American Citizen, but my middle son is not.
    When was the time for us to become citizens my middle son was out of the country in vacation, and when he came back to the states, we ended up forgetting to do his naturalization papers, since he had a Permanent Resident Card.
    In 2009, my brother from Brazil was with a very serious heart problem, so my son went to Brazil to be with his favorite uncle, and I went later, unfortunatelly 5 days after I got there, I brother past away.
    My father was then 86 yrs old, so we stayed with him, and sudenly he became very wick and I develop a Thiroid and a High blood presure, then my son had to stay in Brazil with me helping me with my health and with my father’s situation because my father would cry and said that he was afraid of die if I wasn’t there with him. So time past by, and my son and I were mostly dealing with doctors and all kinds of exames.
    In 2011 we found out that my dad had a blader cancer, and he was already bleeding, so there was no way, that I could leave him, and my blood presure was extreamely high, so my son didn’t felt confortable on leaving me in that situation, and unfortunately on December 24th 2011, my dad past away, exactly 2 yrs after my brother’s death.
    After all that, I was in serious treatment and my son was with me all the time.
    We found out now that my son cannot come back to the states, because his Permanent Resident card is now expired, it expired in 2011, right when my dad past away, but since I was having a serious health problems, my son stayed with me and we didn’t even think about the expiration date on his card.
    Thank God I am better now.
    I am a chef and have an excellent job in California.; and now I had to return to work.
    Unfortunately I could not stay back with my son, to figure it out what to do for him to come back.
    My husband’s lawyer said that my son will be able to get back into the states with his expired card, but at the brazilian airport they will not allow him to travel.
    My son does have a brazilian passport, he has his Permanent Resident card expired in2011, and he has a copie of my dad’s certifitication of death.
    Could you please, please let me know what to do to bring my son back to the United States, he is now 29 yrs old, but my husband and I and our two other kids leave here and he is now alone in Brazil.
    He went to the American Counsulate in Brazil, but they told him that they only deal with american citizen.
    I think it’s crazy, my son was reased over here in the United States, all of his school years was here, he worked as a model and actor for many years in New York and California, now that this awfull family problem that I had to deal with in Brazil, and my son went and stayed with me for support, and now they are not allowing him to come back home.
    Could you please, please help me to bring my son back, please.
    Thank you for your time;
    Sincerely,
    Lourdes

    1. Lourdes,

      From your question, it seems that you and your husband are dual citizens of the U.S. and that your LPR son has been in Brazil since 2009. He was recently unable to board a plane to the U.S. because his green card (Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card) expired in 2011. You should consult an immigration lawyer without delay.

      First, you don’t mention details about your child’s age or you and your husband’s naturalization. However, certain children born abroad automatically acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. This includes, for example, (a) a child born to two U.S. citizen parents; or (b) a biological child born to one U.S. citizen parent if that parent was previously physically present in the U.S. or its outlying possessions for periods totaling not less than 5 years, at least 2 of which were after age 14. Does your son qualify?

      Second, it’s possible that your child automatically derived U.S. citizenship after birth. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child automatically becomes a citizen if all of the following conditions are met after February 27, 2001: (a) at least one parent is a citizen, either by birth or by naturalization; (b) the child is under age 18; (c) the child is not married; (d) the child is a lawful permanent resident; and (e) the child is living in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent. Did your son qualify?

      Third, it may be possible for your son to board a plane to the U.S. You don’t give details about how your son was refused boarding. But, according to CBP, “LPRs with expired I-551s may be boarded without penalty [to the airline] provided the card was issued with a 10-year expiration date.” (CBP Carrier Info Guide). In other words, it may be that the airline (or exit-control official) in Brazil simply was unaware of U.S. policy that an LPR with an expired green card may board. Note that being able to board a plane to the U.S. is different than being admitted to the U.S. by CBP, which is discussed next.

      Fourth, as mentioned above, a green card is not valid for entry to the U.S. once a person has been abroad for one year, but your son may be able to either (a) apply at a U.S. Consulate abroad for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa by convincing the consular officer that the stay abroad was “temporary” and its extension past one year was “beyond [his] control”; or (b) apply to a CBP officer at the port of entry for a “waiver” of the green card requirement by proving that the stay abroad was “temporary” and that there was “good cause” for not returning within one year.

      Obviously, for the SB-1 visa or the “wavier” of the green card requirement, one key issue is proving that the stay abroad was “temporary”. This can be tricky where they stay abroad was for purposes of helping a sick relative.

      Caring for an ill relative is often mentioned as the purpose for travel abroad. In determining whether they stay was “temporary,” the question is whether death or recuperation could reasonably be expected to end the need for staying abroad within a relatively short period:

      * Where an LPR stayed abroad 6 years to care for her mother’s illnesses before she died and another three years to care for her depressed father, the court determined that the LPR’s stay abroad wasn’t “temporary” because it wasn’t contingent on events that could reasonably be expected to occur within a relatively short period.

      * Where an LPR stayed abroad for five years to care for her mother who had been hospitalized for a perforated ulcer, at which point the LPR’s sister separated from her husband and took charge of the care, the court opined that these events had a reasonable possibility of occurring within a relatively short period of time.

      * LPR status was not abandoned where an individual was abroad for 2 years and 9 months, originally with the purpose of caring for his sick grandmother and later for the additional purpose of helping his sister, who was going through a divorce while caring for two small children. The court also found it relevant that the individual did not have “traditional employment” abroad, did not have significant income there, or open a bank account, or secure housing for himself.

      In sum, the determination of whether the stay abroad was “temporary” is fact-intensive, and the strategic one whether to apply for an SB-1 visa or seek a “waiver” of the green card requirement when reentering the U.S. is one best discussed with a qualified immigration lawyer.

  38. Hi there Mr. Chodorow,
    My father came to US and awarded LPR in August of 2012. October 2, 2012 he went back to the Philippines to take care of my mom since she has high blood and diabetes problem. He is planning to return to the US at the last week of August, 2013 (current year). Is his green card a valid reentry to US or are there any documents that CBP may require him to present. Are there any possible conditions or situations which would prevent him in entering US after being gone for less than one year? He lives with me and I am a US citizen. He doesn’t have bank account yet or state ID or have filed taxes since he had to return to the Philippines for the reason mentioned above. I will process my mom’s paper when he gets back. The only reason that I didn’t process it the same time as his was because there is problem with my mom’s birth certificate which I am trying to clear right now. Looking forward to your clarifying insights with this matter.

    Thank you so kindly,
    Gigi

  39. Gigi,

    Sounds like your father was in the U.S. as an LPR for two months then went abroad for 10 months to care for his sick wife.

    His green card, so long as it’s unexpired is “valid” as an entry document if he’s been abroad for under one year.

    But, in addition to having a “valid” green card, he also needs to prove to CBP that he hasn’t abandoned his LPR status because he had a temporary purpose for remaining abroad and has retained ties to the U.S. (e.g., a U.S. citizen daughter). Take a look at my above advice to Rick for examples of evidence he may want to carry, such as medical records proving the illness and its temporary nature, as well as evidence of his role in providing care to his wife.

    Wishing you a speedy family reunion,

    Gary

  40. Dear Sir,

    I’ve been reading the comments section for the past hour and I must say, your advice is very helpful.

    As for my situation, I became a permanent resident August 2012. I stayed in the US for about four months then went back to the Philippines due to financial problems. I couldn’t get a job so I opted to go home and try my luck in there. At the same time, I also plan to take up my Master’s degree. Education in the Philippines is cheaper and my chosen field of study is great in my home country. Because of this, I need to stay in the Philippines most of the year because of my studies.

    Please note that I am able to go back to the US every semester break or whenever possible because of the airfare discounts I get. Will I have any problems with the immigration officers whenever I re-enter the US? I don’t have much strong ties with the US though… All I can present is my library card and Bank of America debit card. I also have relatives in different parts of the US (I don’t know if that helps.) Also, I need to clarify the meaning of this statement: “the visit will be considered a “temporary visit abroad” only if the alien has a continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to the United States during the entirety of his visit.” Since I go back to the US without fail twice a year, is that considered continuous interrupted intention to return to the US?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Bella,

      I sympathize with your situation: after getting the green card, you were unable to find a job in the U.S., so you decided to “try [your] luck” in the Philippines by working there and starting a master’s degree program. You plan to visit the U.S. periodically.

      You can keep your green card only if you’re living abroad “temporarily.” The CBP officer will check to see if you have a fixed intent to return to the U.S. on a particular future date or on the occurrence of a particular condition that will likely occur.

      Above, I spoke with Rick about whether his intent to return to the U.S. upon finding a job here counts as a sufficiently concrete plan. Now, I’ll discuss with you the analogous question about whether to return to the U.S. upon graduation from your master’s degree program is a sufficiently concrete plan.

      Since the officer doesn’t know what’s in your mind, the officer will look to objective evidence, such as whether you return to the U.S. during your school vacations (e.g., do a summer job or internship in the U.S.), whether you have evidence of applying for U.S. jobs to begin following your graduation, etc. (Similarly, it can be helpful to explain that you have not applied for overseas jobs in your new profession).

      I know you want to “try [your] luck” abroad. But note that an LPR who lives abroad with a plan to “let’s see what the future holds” has abandoned LPR status. Nor is it sufficient to intend to return “at some indefinite time in the possibly distant future.” That’s not a concrete plan to return to live in the U.S. within a temporary period.

      Also, since you don’t have many U.S. ties, you may want to apply for a reentry permit, saying in the application that you intend to return to the U.S. after graduation, if true.

      Finally, just visiting the U.S. once every few months isn’t enough to preserve your LPR status. See my discussion above of “touchdown” cases. So you should understand the above quote to mean that a person who is living abroad for a long time will only count as “temporarily” abroad if the person “has a continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to [live in] the United States during the entirety of his” stay abroad.

      Regards,
      Gary

  41. Hello, this website is so helpful! Thank you for it!
    I have a few questions, I got married to a US citizen and got my 2 year green card in September 2011. The following month, my husband got transferred to work in Bahamas ( it was supposed to be for 1 year, and now it’s already been almost 2 years him working there) , so I started to travel back and forward to stay with him. I always go there for 2-3 months and then come back to the States for 1-2 weeks. I never had problems in immigration until last time I travelled, when the immigration officer told me that I need to apply for re-entry permit or I will be considered as I abandoned my status. I had my fingerprint taken yesterday July 18 2013 for I-751 form that I filed on June. I’ve already received the receipt that extends my legal status for a year–my green card expires in September. So, my question is, if I want to go to Bahamas for 4 weeks now and come back a week before my green card expires, how safe is that? And I didn’t apply for re-entry permit because I’m in process of renewing my green card and thought I couldn’t file it at the same time.
    Thank you

    1. Tati,

      I think you’re “mixing apples and oranges.” In other words, I think the question of whether you can travel while you’ve got a pending Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, is separate from whether the question of whether the CBP officer is right that you’re at risk of abandoning your LPR status if you don’t apply for a green card.

      Let’s start with the first question. To be admitted to the U.S. during the period after the I-551 has expired and before the I-751 is adjudicated, you should carry your passport, expired I-551, and the unexpired I-751 receipt issued by USCIS. The “grounds of inadmissibility” apply, just as they do for any permanent resident seeking to enter the U.S. In other words, exercise caution before leaving the U.S. because upon return you may be referred by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport (or other port of entry) to an Immigration Judge for a removal (deportation) hearing if the officer determines you are subject to removal, such as for having committed a crime, having abandoned your permanent resident status by making non-temporary trips abroad, etc. Finally, if the I-751 is denied while you are abroad, you may have trouble getting back in and may be referred to an Immigration Judge for removal a removal hearing. So, as is always the case, traveling abroad is a calculated risk. Often the risk is low, but it’s worth seeking the advice of an immigration lawyer.

      Now, let’s look at the second question: given that your husband has been working abroad for two years and that you’ve been living with him (but visiting the U.S. for 1-2 weeks every 2-3 months), is there a risk that a CBP officer will refuse to readmit you as a conditional resident, instead referring you to an Immigration Judge for a removal hearing? We need to do a familiar analysis. I’m going to assume (although you haven’t said) that your sole reason for being abroad is your husband’s employment. Does this employment meet the judicial definition of “temporary”? See my above tips for Marlin. Is this employment for a U.S. company? See my above tips for Dan. What are your ties to the U.S.?

      Hope that’s helpful. Since the CBP decides abandonment issues based on the totality of the facts, I can’t measure the risk in your particular case without knowing all the facts. Feel free to reply with more details.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply, I really appreciate it! And yes the only reason I go to Bahamas is my husband’s employment, and it is a US company, and his contract is until February 2014, so basically 7 months to go. About our ties to US: we still have our address, that we receive all our mail at ( it is the apartment we used to rent and his mother moved in there for time while we are in Bahamas) , we filed taxes together 2011 and 2012, still have our joint bank account that we use… I was just so sad because I had no idea about the re-entry permit or that I was doing something wrong by traveling like this all the time, the first time I heard about re entry permit was in the airport a month ago from an immigration officer…
        Thank you

  42. Tati,

    It’s an important fact that your husband’s employer is an “American” company. As I mentioned to Dan above, for an LPR employed by an American company abroad, even indefinite employment abroad may be considered temporary. According to the leading case, Matter of Kane:

    The traveler should normally have a definite reason for proceeding abroad temporarily…; examples are … indefinite employment abroad when assigned by one’s United States employer, Matter of Wu, 14 I. & N. Dec. 290 (RC 1973), Matter of Manion, 11 I. & N. Dec. 261 (DD 1965).

    Now, your case is different because you (the LPR) aren’t working for the U.S. company. Instead, it’s your U.S. citizen husband. But I’d argue that the two situations are analogous.

    Notably, section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows an LPR to naturalize with no residence requirement if accompanying his or her U.S. citizen spouse who is employed abroad by an American firm engaged in developing U.S. commerce or trade. The policy behind this statute is to benefit Americans firm engaged in developing international trade by allowing them to employ U.S. citizens abroad without the need for their LPR spouses to make the tough choice between remaining in the U.S. to meet the residence requirement for citizenship or accompanying the U.S. citizen abroad.

    Similarly, for policy reasons the LPR abroad to accompany a U.S. citizen employed by an American company should be considered to be abroad “temporarily” because Congress in section 319(b) has announced that it is national policy not to make such LPRs make the tough decision between achieving their U.S. immigration goals and preserving family unity.

    So, your situation sounds pretty good. However, you need to be careful to determine if your husband’s company is really an “American” company and that his employment would otherwise fall within the parameters of section 319(b). I have an article about this here: http://lawandborder.com/?p=2666. Also, you need to be careful to carry appropriate evidence of the temporary purpose abroad and ties to the U.S. when you seek to enter the U.S.

    I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but even though your situation sounds good, it may be wise to seek the assistance of an immigration lawyer. The lawyer can review all relevant facts and advise you about how to deal with the CBP inspection process, and help you to prepare for the potential interrogation from CBP. For our clients, we typically write a brief lawyer letter to CBP to be presented in case of problems. It briefly lays out the facts and cites to the officer case law for why the applicant should be allowed to enter as a returning resident.

  43. Hello Gary,

    Would you be able to advise on what would be the appropriate steps to take in order for me to maintain PR status—
    I have a job offer in Singapore for a contract term of 3 years. My intention is to work in Singapore for 3 years, then return to the US. I understand that reentry permits are only valid up to 2 years, what can I do in this case?
    FYI– I obtained PR in Oct 2012, traveled for 3 months abroad so far this year. My only family in the US is my brother and his family and my boyfriend who is a ciitizen; my parents live in Malaysia.

    Thank you

    1. Tian,

      We’d be happy to advise you. Feel free to schedule a appointment. Your lengthy employment abroad and weak ties to the U.S. make careful planning important. You can apply for a 2-year reentry permit, and then before it expires return to be physically present in the U.S. to apply for a new permit. Look forward to speaking with you.

  44. Hello,

    I received my green card through my mother, who was a LPR at the time, but has since become naturalized. I am just about to finish up my Ph.D. and have been presented with the opportunity for a post doctoral position at a very well known company in Berlin. I’ve been residing in the US for 9 years now, and have been a LPR for 19 months now. I have every intention of returning to the US after my contract is up (most likely 2 years) and will come back to the US every 6 months. Both my brothers and my mother are citizens, and I intend to keep my bank accounts and credit cards in the US open. If i am able to get a “visiting scholar” visa from Germany, do you think this is enough evidence should I be questioned regarding my intentions? My family travels a lot, so there isn’t a guarantee that they will remain in the US, but I will definitely keep a permanent address here and renew my drivers license when it expires.

    Thank you so much for your advice!

    1. Dee,

      Congrats on finishing your Ph.D. As I mentioned to Marlin, the terms of the employment contract are key–for example, it’s best if it has a specific termination date and lists goals the achievement of which will result in completion of the contract. If the contract identifies your position as a postdoc, that would be great too because such positions are inherently temporary.

      Besides having a temporary job abroad, it’s key that the totality of the facts show you intend to be abroad temporarily. For example, it could be key that any jobs you apply to take upon completion of your postdoc be in the U.S. If, on the contrary, you apply for subsequent jobs in Germany, then it no longer seems as if you went abroad solely for a temporary job. Depending on how strong the facts are regarding your temporary purpose abroad and your ties to the U.S. (e.g., do you have a home in the U.S. to which you will retain access during your stay abroad? what if your family moves to Germany?), you may or may not want to apply for a reentry permit as another indicia of the temporariness of your stay abroad.

  45. Thank you for this incredibly helpful blog. I have read all the comments up till now and I have a quick question.

    A CBP officer stopped my LPR husband who had been out of the US for 10 months and said that she made a note in the database that would likely make it impossible for him to re-enter the US if he were to leave again. This was in O’Hare yesterday (I saw you were asking about different leniency of ports). I did not accompany him because our child is an infant. He did not have any solid proof (taxes, bank account, paying rent) with him because USCIS said that re-entry within a year would be no problem. But the CBP officer questioned him and was suspicious.

    My question is: if he does not get a re-entry permit (this would be a great cost that would be detrimental to our finances) but provides the solid proof that the nature of his stay abroad is temporary (caring for a grandfather with Alzheimer’s and heart conditions, and 3 or 4 ties to the US) and my child and I also accompany him, would that make him less suspicious and be allowed to admit the country?

    1. KK,

      Obviously your husband’s situation is very sympathetic. Most CBP officers would feel shitty about issuing him a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court just because he has been abroad carrying for a parent with Alzheimer’s and a heart condition. So step one is to gather strong evidence of your father-in-law’s medical condition. Note that usually medical records are indecipherable, so a letter written by a doctor in clear English precisely describing the medical condition would be helpful. Also gather strong evidence that your husband is the primary caregiver.

      That said, even if most CBP officers would feel shitty about issuing an NTA, sometimes that’s what the law mandates because the lawful permanent resident (LPR) has abandoned his or her status. As I mentioned to Rick above, caring for an ill relative is often mentioned as the purpose for an LPR’s travel abroad. In such cases, the government often wants to know whether death or recuperation could reasonably be expected to end the need for staying abroad within a relatively short period. Only then is the illness “temporary” within the meaning of the immigration law. For example, in a case where an LPR stayed abroad 6 years to care for her mother’s illnesses before she died and another three years to care for her depressed father, the court determined that the LPR’s stay abroad wasn’t temporary because it wasn’t contingent on events that could reasonably be expected to occur within a relatively short period. Although I know nothing of your father-in-law’s situation, I’ve heard that the average life expectancy for someone with Alzheimer’s is 8 to 10 years after the onset of symptoms, with some people living up to 20 years.

      If your father-in-law’s illness is not “temporary,” then your husband has to show CBP that nonetheless his period of stay abroad will be “temporary.” In one case, an LPR went abroad to care for a mother with a long-term illness. Still, the court ruled that the LPR’s stay abroad was temporary because when she went abroad she intended throughout that she would only be the caregiver for a limited period of time, after which the plan was that her sister would take over care.

      Finally, you ask about whether you and your child should accompany your husband. If you mean live with your husband abroad, the answer is that’s a negative factor since he then has fewer U.S. ties. If you mean fly abroad just to fly back to the U.S. with your husband, that’s probably not a good use of your limited resources.

      Wishing that your father-in-law finds comfort and your husband finds strength,
      Gary

  46. Hello Mr. Chodorow,

    Thank you very much for all this helpful information.

    My boyfriend is a LPR but is visiting me in S. Korea. I’m a US citizen working abroad.

    He came in November 2012, returned to US for about 2 weeks due to family issues, and came back to Korea to stay with me until October 2013. We were under the impression that it is okay to stay abroad as long as it is less than 1 year but I’m concerned that his LPR status will be at risk.

    He definitely has stronger ties in the US. All his immediate family members are living in the US and he has a valid driver’s license/bank account. Another factor that proves that he has not abandoned his US residence is that he was never employed while visiting Korea.

    The reason why he is staying as long as he could (we figured it was 1 year) is because he won’t be able to return until he receives his citizenship so he wanted to spend as much time with his relatives, friends, and me before going back.

    Is there more he should prepare to avoid losing his LPR? He never intented to abandon it and I want to make sure his return is as smooth as possible.

    Thank you for you help!

    1. KJ,

      To sum up the facts, you are a U.S. citizen living in Korea and your boyfriend is visiting you there for 11 months with 1 trip to the U.S. in the middle. He hasn’t been warned by CBP about possible abandonment. As always, a lawyer can’t provide advice without complete facts, so I’m just going to skim the surface.

      * Is your work/stay in Korea temporary or permanent? What evidence do you have? The answer is key because if your boyfriend is really just there to accompany you, then the officer will want to know about your plans.

      * Is your boyfriend a Korean citizen, does he have a tourist visa in Korea, or something else? This answer is key because if he’s just got a tourist visa, that’s evidence his stay in Korea is temporary.

      * You say he’s not employed in Korea. Does he have any solid plans upon return to the U.S.? If he does have solid plans like a job offer or a university admission letter, that’s key evidence.

      * What is his housing situation in Korea versus the U.S.? For example, is he staying with friends in Korea but owns a house in the U.S.? The comparative strength of his ties in the two countries is important.

      In closing, 11 months isn’t a long time to be abroad–especially since he’s had 1 trip back to the U.S. during that period. But if he’ll be out of China for 6 months straight, the CBP officer is more likely to look at the facts to determine if he’s abandoned his LPR status. Be ready to prove that the purpose of the stay abroad is temporary and that ties to the U.S. are strong.

  47. Hi Mr. Chodorow,

    I really appreciate your valuable legal information. Very useful! Here is my situation:
    1. I came to US in 2007 with a F1 visa for education.
    2. I got green card in Dec. 2008 as a political asylee.
    3. I went back to China to visit my parents in 2011 for 1 month
    4. I went back to China to visit my parents in 2012 for 4 month to visit my family
    5. i graduated from UCLA last year and am living in LA now.
    6. So I’ve been a green card holder for almost 5 years

    I may want to go back to China to work or start a company. I have heard that getting a re-entry permit can help me stay outside the U.S. longer. Any suggestions? I don’t want US citizenship.

    My U.S. ties are a rented house, car loan, student loan, credit card account, driver’s license, and tax returns.

    Thanks,
    Xi

    1. Xi,

      The key requirement for your stay abroad is that it be “temporary” within the above definition. You haven’t given me any details about how your China work or business plans are temporary. If you want to keep your LPR status, don’t leave the U.S. without a clear plan. As I told Dan above, you can stay outside the U.S. longer if you work for an “American” company. Be sure to carefully research the company because “American” has a very specific definition in this context. You can learn more about that definition in our N-470 Guide: http://lawandborder.com/?p=2666. (The definition is the same as for N-470 purposes). And yes, I recommend you apply for a reentry permit before you leave the U.S. if you’ll probably be abroad for 1 year straight or for 6+ months for two years straight.

  48. Dear Sir,

    My mom recieved her green card more than a year ago. She has stayed outside the U.S. since then. So, based on the information you provided, her green card is not valid any more to enter the U.S. What can she do? Is her green card valid for entering Canada?

  49. Shima,

    If your mother has been outside the U.S. for one year straight, the first question is whether she’s “abandoned” her lawful permanent resident (LPR) status by making a non-temporary trip abroad, as explained above. If the answer is yes, she may need to start the LPR application process all over again. If the answer is no, then she needs a different way to reenter the U.S. (since the green card is invalid after a 1-year continuous absence). She may be eligible for an SB1 returning resident visa or CBP may be willing to waive the documentary requirement. The bottom line is that if she’s interested in returning to the U.S. she should seek an immigration lawyer’s advice ASAP. (Shameless advertisement: we commonly help clients worldwide with these matters).

    (I can’t address your Canada law question as I am not licensed to practice Canadian law.)

    The green card is no longer a valid document if your mom’s been outside the U.S. one year straight.

  50. Hi,

    I was admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident on June 20, 2013. I got my green card in the mail on August 2. I am studying in Pakistan. My last semester of MBA will be September through June 2014. I will return to the U.S. after my convocation. (I’ll be traveling with my daughter).

    My U.S. ties: My husband will stay in the U.S., and I have a U.S. bank account.

    Do you suggest I should apply reentry permit because of my planned 9-month absence? That’s expensive. Or can I remain a green card holder if I come back in June 2014?

    Would appreciate your help with source link.

    Regards

    1. Naureen,

      To summarize your situation, you were just granted LPR status and want to return to Pakistan for the last semester of your MBA program, bringing your daughter. Your husband will stay in the U.S. during this period.

      The title of this article is, “Your Green Card Is at Risk if You Stay Outside U.S. Over 6 Months.” Each person has a different factual situation but needs to answer the questions, how serious is the risk and what’s the best way to ameliorate the risk?

      For you, the first point to make is that the case law is clear that going solely for a concrete educational purpose with a clear counts as temporary. See, for example, Matter of Kane, 15 I. & N. Dec. at 262 (The traveler should normally have a definite reason for proceeding abroad temporarily…. [E]xamples are education and professional training.); Serpico v. Trudell, 46 F.2d 669 (D. Ver. 1928) (Boy was sent to Italy for schooling for 10 years–secondary through medical schools. Held, didn’t intend to remain abroad indefinitely or to practice his profession there, but intended to return to home kept for him by his parents).

      Your purpose in going abroad seems pretty clear–it sounds like you started this MBA program before getting your green card and want to return home to finish it. The U.S. government understands that the green card application process is long and the timing is unpredictable, so understands that people may need to return abroad to finish things up before living full-time in the U.S. (e.g., finishing a temporary employment contract, finishing school, liquidating assets).

      The other thing you need to prove to get back into the U.S. is that it’s been your intention all along to return to live in the U.S. upon completion of your MBA program. Your husband’s presence in the U.S. is important, but it really depends what he’s doing in the U.S.–for example, is this his permanent home, or is he just in the U.S. on a temporary work assignment? Do you both own a house together, or is he just staying in a hotel?

      A good type of evidence for some students is a copies of all documentation of their efforts to find a job upon graduation, showing that all the jobs they applied for are in the U.S., not in their home country.

      Finally, let me answer your question about whether you need to pay the expense of applying for a reentry permit (RP). An RP has two purposes. First, if you may well be abroad for over a year, your green card isn’t valid evidence for reentering the U.S., in which case you should definitely get an RP. This may not apply to you, since you estimate being abroad for 9 months. Second, an RP is a piece of evidence of intent that your stay abroad be merely temporary. To decide whether you need an RP, you need to consider the totality of the evidence you have related to your purpose for going abroad and ties to the U.S. If the evidence is already strong, you can skip the RP. If the evidence is weak, you may be wise to apply for the RP. Since I don’t know the totality of the facts–such as your husband’s immigration status, whether you have a permanent home in the U.S., whether you’ll be seeking jobs only in the U.S., etc., I can’t answer that question without doing a thorough consultation.

  51. Dear Gary,

    I am a US citizen and my husband is from mainland China. He has had his green card for about eight years now, and should be eligible for US naturalization. I have recently been offered a job in Korea for a professional, non-English-teaching position with a decent salary and the potential for advancement. However, I have done some research on the Korean immigration laws, and I am concerned about my husband’s eligibility for employment there. From a work perspective, I am ultimately unsure whether it would be more prudent for him to travel to Korea as a Chinese national or as an American citizen. Whatever the answer to that question may be, though, we think that it would be in his best interest to try to apply for naturalization now from a “moving-back-to-the-US-one-day” perspective. How risky would it be for him to move to Korea with me for more than two years if he is only a US LPR? Is there any chance his US naturalization application would be denied if it was learned that I was not in the US with him while his naturalization application was pending? I would appreciate any insights you might have on this matter.

    Thank you,
    Melanie

    1. Melanie,

      You ask what is the risk to your husband in moving to Korea for “more than two years” to accompany you while employed for an entity which I assume is not a U.S. employer. First, you’ll need to analyze whether this is a “temporary” stay abroad within the above definition. (See my advice for Marlin above). If not, your husband will be abandoning his LPR status. Second, you’ll need to decide if he’ll be out for 1 year straight, in which case he’ll need a reentry permit to return. Third, you’ll need to judge the strength of the evidence that your job abroad is just “temporary” and the comparative strength of your husband’s ties to the U.S. and Korea. Document the U.S. ties, and if the evidence isn’t compelling, consider applying for a reentry permit and adopting other strategies to strengthen the ties.

      Finally, you ask about whether he may be eligible to apply for naturalization, and how that may be impacted by his and/or your stay in Korea. Your stay abroad shouldn’t impact his eligibility, assuming he meets the regular residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization. But his stay abroad could impact his eligibility. For more, see my article, “Can a Green Card Holder Who’s Been Overseas for 6 Months Apply for Citizenship?” at http://lawandborder.com/?p=2684.

      Let me know if you’d like to schedule an appointment for advice on these matters.

  52. Hi everyone,

    I would like some advice aswell please as I have been to 4 different USA immigration attornies and had 3 different sets of advice.

    I married USAF girl in 2004 and moved to Texas where I obtained my green card. It was a 10 year card and is “valid” until 2017. In 2007 we were moved on official orders back to the UK. In 2007 we divorced.

    I later married another USAF girl, and we now have 2 children. (We’ve registered their births at the U.S. Embassy in London). My new wife came out of the USAF when we found out she was pregnant approx June 2008.

    We remained in the UK as there were some complications with the pregnancy. To support the family, I joined the UK RAF and went to Afghanistan in support of the USAF but not employed by them.

    We then remained in the UK as I was tied to the job but still intended to return to the USA as our permanent home. Whilst we were collating money to make this happen my mum got breast cancer and as my father was also extremely ill we were asked to look after my mother as she progressed through her treatment. During this time my dad passed away leaving us to care fully for my mum.

    We then had our second baby again complications with the pregnancy and had to save some more…..I got diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2011 and was released from my committment with the RAF and my mum had finished treatment and is now cancer free and we were able to secure her accommodation in an assisted living community.

    At this point in time we had the money and freedom from committments to return to the USA. I misplaced my green card, so I obtained an ESTA visa waiver and we all made it into the US and set up our home. Since the ESTA waiver is good for only 90 day stays in the U.S., I left and reentered several times. Finally, I located my green card in my father-in-law’s basement.

    What should I do?

    Attorney #1 said to do nothing as I was already here and had a green card.
    Attorney #2 said to start a fresh application Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status.
    Attorney #3 said go to the field office and have them check my status.
    Attorney #4 said I would be deported for entering on the ESTA visa in the first place.

    Please help.

  53. Let me preface my answer by saying that the facts of your situation are complex so the brief summary provided is not enough to provide a solid legal opinion. You should definitely rely on the advice of a lawyer who first reviews all the facts. Also, it’s possible that the advice of the lawyers you’ve consulted in more nuanced than the brief notes you have provided. So just a few thoughts:

    Attorney #1’s advice: Having a green card is different than being admitted by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the airport as a returning lawful permanent resident (LPR). Look at your passport and any Form I-94, Departure Record. If you were admitted under the B1/B2 visa waiver program, then your status if B1/B2, so you can’t “do nothing” because when the 90-day stay expires you will be out of status. See 9 FAM 42.22 N10 (person holding a green card may instead be admitted as a nonimmigrant).

    Attorney #4’s advice: As mentioned above, a person holding a green card may be instead be admitted as a nonimmigrant. So merely entering with the B1/B2 visa waiver won’t make you deportable, so long as you didn’t make any misrepresentation, and so long as you haven’t violated your B1/B2 status subsequent to admission. A B1/B2 visa waiver is for purposes of staying in the U.S. for up to 90 days as a visitor for business or pleasure. An example of a misrepresentation would be entering with the B1/B2 visa waiver and telling the officer you intend to stay briefly for business or pleasure while secretly intending to reside in the U.S.

    Attorney #3’s advice: Going to the local USCIS office to have them “check your status” doesn’t sound particularly helpful. First, if your passport and/or I-94 show that you were admitted under the B1/B2 visa waiver program and that’s consistent with what you told the CBP officer at the airport, then there’s no question of your status. Second, you are putting yourself at risk that USCIS will arrest you for misrepresenting your intent at the time of entry (in that you intended to reside in the U.S.) or subsequently violating your B1/B2 status (such as by working). Second, a key issue, as described below, is whether you’ve abandoned your LPR status, and that’s not something that USCIS can just “check”–it can only be decided by an agency in the context of deciding an application by you (e.g., an application for admission at the airport, an I-485, an application for citizenship, etc.)

    Attorney #2’s advice: This attorney’s advice gets closest to the real issue in your case: have you abandoned your lawful permanent resident (LPR) status by staying abroad on a basis that is not “temporary”? You tell a long story about why you were abroad from 2007 on: first, due to your wife’s U.S. Air Force assignment abroad, then because of complications with your second wife’s pregnancy, then because of your work for the UK Royal Air Force, then to care for your ill parents, then because of complications with another pregnancy. A stay abroad is “temporary” only if you had a continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to live in the U.S. upon occurrence of an event having a reasonable possibility of occurring within a relatively short period of time. The “event” which you were waiting for kept changing. You haven’t discussed your ties to the U.S. while abroad, but they sound pretty weak, especially since when you misplaced your green card you didn’t tell the officer at the airport and try to get readmitted as an LPR but instead just entered on the visa waiver. While I don’t know the complete facts, it strikes me that an agency could well decide you abandoned your LPR status. If you want to get a “ruling” on whether you’re still an LPR, one option would be to prepare the evidence and a legal argument by your lawyer and then present yourself at a port of entry, asking CBP to readmit you as a returning resident. If you’re admitted as a returning resident, that’s pretty good evidence that you’re didn’t abandon LPR status, although it’s not beyond attack in the future (e.g., during a future entry or during an application for naturalization). In the alternative, it may be best to re-acquire LPR status, either by filing the I-130/I-458 with USCIS and adjusting status or by applying to a U.S. Consulate abroad for an immigrant visa. One risk associated with the I-130/I-485 is the chance of denial based on the charge that you misrepresented your intent when you entered with the visa waiver. One risk associated with the immigrant visa is that you could get caught abroad for an extended period if there are certain problems with the case. Deciding between these strategies is depends on the specific facts of your case.

  54. Hello Gary,

    I recently became a permanent resident and have been living in the States for the last 3 months. During that time, I left for 10 days to my country (Brazil), and now I’m planning to leave again for 10 days to the Caribbean. My husband (a US citizen, to whom I’ve been married for 10 years) has been in Brazil for these 3 months because he works there. I work as a freelance photographer, and I travel internationally and within the U.S. for work. Do you think that my husband’s absence from the U.S. could cause me a problem at the airport when I seek to come back to the U.S.?

    1. Rosario,

      Sounds glamorous–international freelance photographer jetting off to Brazil and the Caribbean.

      Assuming you became a permanent resident on the basis of a petition by your U.S. citizen husband, the first issue is whether you were properly admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) 3 months ago. In this article I explain that the petitioner must file a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and that the petitioner must be “domiciled” in the U.S. You say that your husband is working abroad. If that’s not temporary, then he may not be domiciled in the U.S., and Customs may have made a mistake in admitting you as an LPR. If a person is admitted as an LPR when ineligible, there is a risk the government will later try to take away the LPR status. Take a look at the rules on domicile in that article to see if your husband really met the domicile requirement. If not, talk to a lawyer about what to do.

      This article is about abandonment of LPR status by making a trip abroad which isn’t temporary. The 10-day trips abroad you describe are temporary, so won’t place you at risk of abandonment.

      Your husband’s absence from the U.S. isn’t crucial to keeping your LPR status. Once you’re an LPR, so long as you gained that status lawfully, it’s not key where your husband is living.

  55. I have a green card, but I’ve been in Saudi Arabia for about 2 years as a student. This week I graduated (thank god), and in two months I want to go with my new wife to the U.S. for a 1-week vacation. I know my wife needs a visa, but but what about me? Can go with my green card?

    1. Abdulkarim:

      If you’ve been abroad for 1 year straight, your green card is invalid as an entry document.

      The next question is whether you’ve abandoned your LPR status. That depends on facts you haven’t told me, such as whether your intent has been to be abroad merely temporarily, and what U.S. ties you’ve kept that evidence your intent to be abroad merely temporarily.

      If you want to see if you can keep your LPR status, talk to a lawyer. (Yes, our firm provides this service). The lawyer may tell you that the facts show you’ve abandoned your LPR status, in which case you need a new visa (e.g., a B1/B2 visitor’s visa) to return to the U.S. Or, the lawyer may tell you that the facts show you have a good argument you haven’t abandoned your LPR status. In that event, the lawyer will help you choose between applying for an SB-1 returning resident visa and asking CBP at the port of entry to waive the documentary requirement for your return.

      A word of caution: If you want to try to keep your LPR status, don’t apply for a B1/B2 visitor’s visa without first discussing this with a lawyer. The reason is that your application could be construed as evidence of intent to give up LPR status.

  56. Dear Gary,

    I just got my green card and got a very good job offer in my country. I have been living here in us legally for 15 years and waiting for the green card in the past 7 years. Me and my wife are both indonesians, have been working as a finance manager and registered nurse at a large healthcare system in florida. We have 2 boys ages 8 and 9 that are us citizens. My question is if we were to accept the jobs back home but wanted to keep the green card and even apply for us citizenship…is this doable? what can we do and how? we own multiple properties and have brothers and sisters here in us that are also us citizens. I want to keep the green card as a back up plan in case things do not work out with the new job back home, thank you very much in advance for your input. Dee

    1. Deviano,

      You can only keep your green card if your stay abroad is “temporary.” This will require clear proof that your overseas job is temporary. See my above advice to Marlin on this point.

      And as to whether you can acquire, during your period abroad, the “continuous residence” in the U.S. needed to become a U.S. citizen, the only way may be to meet the requirements for a Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes. See Naturalization for Permanent Residents and Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad.

  57. Hi Gary,

    I became an LPR in Feb 2012 in the EB2 category. I have been residing in the US continually for the last one year. I have received a very lucrative job offer abroad which I’m keen to take up, but at the same time I don’t want to jeopardize my Green Card and Naturalization. The company making the offer has a US sales office but will probably not qualify as an American company.

    The job offer is not based on a contract, instead its an open-ended offer, however I only plan to be in the job for a maximum of 2 years and most probably it will be 1.5 years or so.

    Will the following strategy work?

    1) Apply for a reentry permit. I assume its possible even though the job offer is not a timed contract

    2) Never be absent from the U.S. for 6 months straight (i.e., I plan to be in the US one month out of every 6).

    The reentry permit would allow me to retain my green card, while not having more than 6 months continuous absence from the US should prevent my 5 years to naturalization from ‘resetting’. Once I’m back in the US, I plan to wait until the physical presence requirement is met and then apply for citizenship.

    Is the above a viable approach?

    1. Arun,

      Your approach to avoiding LPR status during a 1.5 to 2 year absence for work sounds pretty good. Don’t forget that the reentry permit is just one piece of evidence but CBP (and ultimately an immigration judge) must make a decision based on the totality of the facts as to whether a person has abandoned LPR status. So don’t forget to document the temporary nature of your job and your continuing ties to the U.S.

      I’m less sanguine about your plan for citizenship because absences from the U.S. for under six months can interrupt fulfillment of the “continuous residence” requirement if USCIS thinks you’re living abroad. See details here: Can a Green Card Holder Who’s Been Overseas for 6 Months Apply for Citizenship?. As you can tell from the article, this is an area of law where there’s much ambiguity.

      You may need to choose what’s more important to you: taking the overseas job or expediting your citizenship.

  58. Gary,

    I received my 10-year green card in 2004. I’ve been abroad since 2007, however, because when I was on a visit to Australia I fell in love and married here. Can I use my green card to return to the U.S. at the end of this year? My parents and siblings live there.

    1. Dear Putheary,

      This sounds like the classic case of abandoning your residence in the U.S. and making a new life for yourself in Australia. You must have been swept off your feet. From the bare bones facts you’ve disclosed, it doesn’t seem like your stay in Australia has been “temporary” within the legal definition. In other words, it doesn’t seem like during your 6 years in Australia you’ve had a “continuous, uninterrupted intention to return to” live in the United States upon occurrence of a concrete future event. So you may need to begin the U.S. immigration process again from the start. Give an immigration lawyer the full story to get solid legal advice about your options.

  59. My daughter has been living in the US since 2004. She attended the high school and graduated from Georgia State University in December 2011. She got a green card through me (I got it under EB 1 Persons with Extraordinary Abilities E11). She has been working since August 2012. From October 1, 2013 to 30 April, 2014 she will be in France teaching English at a French High School under a French Government Program. This would mean she would be for seven months away from US. She has a bank account here, owns a car, files income tax returns, her name is also on the title deed of our town home, I continue to live in the US, and my daughter intends to return to US, work or do her Masters here. Should she anticipate any problems when she re-enters US in May 2014? Please advise. Thanks.

    1. Vridhagiri,

      Sounds like your daughter’s purpose for going abroad is temporary. Is this French Government Program intended to provide temporary positions to foreign nationals? If so, your daughter may accordingly have a temporary contract, temporary living quarters, a temporary visa, and even maybe a roundtrip air ticket.

      You’ve mentioned her strong ties to the U.S. She can keep up those ties during her absence by documenting that her search for her next step in life–a U.S. job or school program–is limited to the U.S.

      If she’s in France for 7 months only, she carries some of the above-mentioned evidence, and there are no negative factors, I wouldn’t anticipate any evidence reentering the U.S.

  60. My friend has a green card but is studying in Europe. She visits the USA every summer, except this one due to summer classes. What will happen to her green card? Does it matter if she’s taking online classes in the USA?

    1. Andrey,

      See my advice to Naureen above regarding what a student abroad should do to avoid abandoning LPR status. (You ask if taking online classes in the U.S. is relevant. That could count as a U.S. tie–one piece of evidence that she intends to return to the U.S. after competing studies abroad.)

      And your friend shouldn’t stay out for one year straight unless she has a reentry permit. If she’s already done so, then she lacks a valid document to re-enter the U.S., and it’s time to consult a lawyer.

  61. Hi Mr. Chodorow,
    My Brasillian wife is planing a short trip back to the states and will apply for a tourist visa we have lived in Brasil for 8 years prior to that she was in the U.S. for 23 years.Her green card was issued in 1984 and we know that she needs to surrender it with her application.Will she have any problems getting the visa or at the port of entry?
    Thank you: Mark

  62. Mark,

    Thanks for your question. To surrender her green card, your wife should file a Form I-407, Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence, at a U.S. consulate or USCIS office. Make sure to keep for your permanent records a copy of the form stamped by that office.

    Your wife may not be surrendering her green card for tax reasons but she should be aware of the tax consequences. Green card holders are taxed in the same manner as US citizens –- that is, they are subject to U.S. income tax on their worldwide income regardless of the source of that income or where the green card holder is living at the time it is earned. Also, green card holders must file FBARs, and harsh penalties can be imposed if not done properly or in a timely fashion. And some long-term permanent residents must pay an “exit tax” upon surrendering their green cards.

    Even if a person is not complying with the terms of maintaining the green card for purposes of the U.S. immigration laws (i.e., is living abroad more than just “temporarily”), continuing to hold the card still counts for U.S. tax law purposes. This is true even if the card expires.

    Once the I-407 has been filed, your wife can apply for a nonimmigrant visa. She’ll need to meet the same requirements as other applicants. But filing the I-407 is often strong evidence that a person meets the requirement of having “nonimmigrant intent.”

    All of this is to say that surrendering a green card has important consequences–talk to an immigration lawyer and a tax professional before taking the plunge.

  63. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

    I have been living in the US with a 2-year I-551 for 15 months, and have just accepted a job in my native country (the UK) on a 2-year contract. I’m married to a US citizen, and she will be joining me in the UK for the majority of the time, but will be making frequent trips back to the US for work. The timeline for me taking up my job makes it doubtful that I would be able to obtain a re-entry permit prior to leaving the country, but I will be back in the US in January, and again in April for a longer period when I need to apply for the 10 year I-551. We have just purchased a condo here in the US, and I intend to file US tax returns, and will be keeping my US credit card, bank account and home loan. We have considered abandoning my Green Card (it is the cheaper option), but are worried it may impact on our home loan and so are not keen to do so. In your opinion, would my absences from the US lead a CBP to suspect abandonment of my LPR status?

    Many thanks,
    Fraser

    1. Fraser,

      Sounds like on this trip you won’t be abroad for 1 year straight, in which case you don’t need the reentry permit as an entry document.

      Also sounds like you have strong ties to the U.S. So the key is, what evidence do you have–beyond the contract–that this move to UK is only for two years? An example would be if the job application or acceptance letter said that you intend to work at the job for only two years because you intend to move back to the U.S. Another example might be, for example, a posting to friends and family on Facebook saying you’re moving to the UK for 2 years and intend to move back afterwards. Another example is that when you get around to applying for your next job, apply only in the U.S. and keep copies of your correspondence with employers.

      You ask me what’s the risk in dealing with CBP. I’d say minimal if you plan well. When you enter the U.S., carry the evidence that your stay abroad will be temporary and of your strong U.S. ties. If the evidence isn’t strong, then consider applying for a reentry permit at your first opportunity so that you have that extra piece of evidence. It’s worth doing the planning because when CBP realizes that an LPR is working abroad the possible issue of abandonment naturally arises.

      Cheers,
      Gary

  64. Dear Gary,
    Do I need to write something for the U.S. authority or just apply for the re-entry permit if I plan to study to another country for 4 years and/or more? and also, do I have to come and visit U.S. often in order not to abandon the LPR?

    1. Berna: The application has a space where you can describe the purpose of your temporary trip abroad. A reentry permit is valid for up to 2 years, but can be renewed by returning to the U.S. and filing and attending a biometrics appointment in the U.S. So it sounds like you’ll need at least 2. See my above response to Naureen for some general tips for LPRs going overseas to study.

  65. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

    My wife and I went to her home country of Indonesia to visit her family and for me to get training in teaching English to non-Native speakers. I became extremely ill towards the end of my training and required an extra year in order to get the strength to return to the US (I was gone a total of 2 years, with the intention of staying for one). I unfortunately still require medical care and my wife and daughter are still in Indonesia. I cannot afford to bring them over until I heal and get a new job so I can support them. Can we legitimately file for an SB-1 under these circumstances (I am estimating she will be gone around 3 years once I am healed and working)? I am very worried that it might be years before I see them again. My daughter was born in the USA, by the way.

    Thank you for your insight. -Adam

    1. Adam: If I understand correctly, you are a U.S. citizen, and your wife is an LPR who has been in Indonesia for nearly 3 years straight for a combination of reasons–first, to take care of you when you fell ill in Indonesia, and because although you’ve recovered partially and returned to the U.S. you can’t afford to bring her and your daughter back home. (If I’ve misunderstood the facts, let me know). Frankly, I can’t answer your question without more facts and legal research research. As you know, the key (but not exclusive) requirements to apply for the SB-1 returning resident visa at at a U.S. Consulate abroad are that you convince the consular officer that the stay abroad was temporary and its extension past one year was “beyond [your] control.” I’d have to look at agency guidance and case law to see when that combination of illness and economic hardship amount to being “beyond [your] control.” Then I’d have to compare those precedents to the facts of your case.

      If your wife’s green card has not expired, she may be able to board a plane and apply at a port of entry (e.g., airport) for a waiver of the documentary requirement and admission to the U.S. as a returning resident. She’ll still have to prove that there was “good cause” for her not returning within one year, but that’s a lower standard than proving her stay abroad was “beyond [her] control.”

      And another option is to file a new I-130 on your wife’s behalf and then have her reapply for an immigrant visa.

      Sorry you’re in a tough situation, but the above options may resolve it. I understand money is tight, but you may want to invest in consulting with a lawyer, or if you are low-income, you may be able to qualify for pro bono legal assistance.

  66. Hello Sir,

    I’ve been reading a lot about reentry permits and this website has been the most helpful. I’ve been in California for about 4 months. I am a green card holder. I wanna finish my college in the Philippines next year, and my course will take up to 4 years to finish. It’s way cheaper to study in the Philippines than here. I had a job here at a fast food chain, and I’m currently working in a store as sales associate. I’m planning to file a tax return before the year ends. I also have driver’s insurance, and my dad and brother and sister are here. My mother is in the Philippines. I have a bank account here too. Will I be readmitted to the U.S. after my studies? Do I need a re entry permit? Should I go back to US every summer vacation from my school? (That’s expensive). Or can I go back just before the reentry permit expires? And how do I apply for the reentry permit? I’m really confused. Thank you.

  67. Hi Gary, I am an American citizen with a Serbian wife who is an LPR since 2010. I was finishing up my graduate studies last fall, and I was so busy with work and school that we decided to send my wife and two young daughters (both US/Serbian dual citizens) to Belgrade to spend time with her family. I then decided to move to Serbia to work for a time, but only temporarily as I kept our joint bank account open, filed our joint tax return, and kept a legal residence. I have been working since May, but we decided to head back to the US soon. I plan to go first in early October, and then my wife and girls will join me soon after. The only problem is that she left the US around October 22 last year, so we are getting close to the 1 year mark. We had no idea there was a 1 year restriction for entering with her green card, and we did not apply for a reentry permit based on this same ignorance. I am looking for a bit of advice to see if I should get them over to the US before a year goes by, or can she get in by applying for a returning resident visa at the US Embassy in Belgrade. Any ports of entry that are a bit more relaxed? Thanks again for any help.

    1. Ian: To get an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad, an applicant must convince the consular officer that the stay abroad was temporary and its extension past one year was “beyond [her] control.” A common refrain from officers denying SB-1 visas is that ignorance of the law (related to reentry permits, that LPRs stays abroad may only be “temporary,” etc.) does not make the stay abroad itself beyond a person’s control. So you may save your wife a significant headache by having her return to the U.S. before she’s been abroad for 1 year straight. Since she’s approaching a year abroad, she should carry evidence that her stay has been temporary and of her U.S. ties.

  68. Dear Mr Chodorow,

    Since I got my green card in 2012, I have been going back and forth and the last time I stayed close to a year overseas. Within this period I have been able to finish my MBA overseas. I was able to enter the US with a waiver at the airport. Had to pay for the waiver. (580 USD). My dilemma: I have been offered a job overseas with a non-US company. How do I go about ensuring that my status isn’t affected? I plan on filing my taxes, keeping an active bank account as well as credit card and if possible purchase a condo. Will this help? In addition I will also be visiting every 5 or so months whiles abroad. Please advice me on the best possible way to go about this. As I am an investment banker by profession and haven’t gotten the job I want in the US.

    1. Gyasi:

      Sounds like last time you applied for and were granted by CBP at the port of entry a “waiver” of the green card requirement by proving that the stay abroad was temporary and that there was “good cause” for not returning within one year.

      If you want to take a job abroad for a non-U.S. company, you’ll need to prove your stay abroad is “temporary.” See my above tips for Marlin.

      Visiting every 5 months or so is no guarantee you’ll keep your green card. See the above discussion about “touchdown” cases.

  69. Hi Gary,

    Thanks for the wonderful advices on your website.

    My parents are LPR for over 7 years. They returned to China September 2011. Their green cards are valid (not expired). While they are in China, my brother was diagnosed with cancer, and subsequently passed away in July 2013. They did not have re-entry permit.
    My questions is: If they come back to US, at the airport, if they abandon their LPR status, will they be admitted into US on tourist visa or send back to China?
    any comment will be appreciated!

    charlie

    1. Charlie,

      Sorry to hear about your family’s loss. As mentioned above, one option the CBP officer has if she believes an individual has abandoned LPR status is to allow the individual to relinquish LPR status (voluntarily give up the green card) and be admitted as a nonimmigrant, such as a B1 visitor for business or B2 visitor for pleasure. The other options available to the officer are also mentioned above, and she will decide based on the totality of the facts.

  70. Dear Mr Chodorow,

    I’ve lived in the U.S. as an LPR since January 1996, except that I was in Switzerland from June 21, 2012, to June 23, 2013 on a 1-year assignment as a liaison engineer on behalf of my U.S. company. During that period, I was back in the U.S. just for a 3-week vacation. While abroad, I kept U.S. ties like:

    -I maintained 2 bank accounts in the U.S. while abroad
    -While abroad, I stored the majority of my things at a former residence of mine in Michigan
    -My parents and brother live in the U.S.
    -I have a valid driver’s license

    When I returned after the completion of my assignment, I was told by the CBP officer that he could have taken my green card on the spot for being out of the country for too long (although he wrote underneath my passport stamp that I was out for 6 months). I was completely unaware (ignorant) that I had done anything wrong. The CBP officer did not take away my green card after I explained myself, but he recommended that I get my U.S. citizenship or use a re-entry permit the next time.

    I would like to now attend celebration of life services for my grandmother in Canada in a week, so I am wondering if you think I will have any problems at the border. I plan to drive to the services near Toronto from my permanent residence in Michigan. I will only stay for the weekend. What do you think?

    1. Tyler, from your summary, it sounds like a weekend in Canada is a very low risk activity. Especially if you carry your old temporary assignment agreement and evidence you’re back working in the U.S. I wouldn’t sweat it. Your Switzerland stay was clearly temporary and you’re clearly now back residing in the U.S.

      Of course, I don’t know all the facts–for example, I don’t know whether any of the grounds of inadmissibility apply to you (e.g., if you may be refused readmission to the U.S. due to a crime, etc.). So if you want just a quick take–as opposed to a legal opinion that you can rely on–my impression is that your trip is fine.

      1. Per my research, none of the grounds of inadmissibility appear to apply to me, so I’m not going to worry much about my upcoming trip. Thanks for your help!

  71. Hello,

    I was married to a US citizen, and got divorced over a year ago. I had a green card but left the US 4 years ago. I have 2 US-born kids with my ex-husband. We currently live in Colombia. I am now planning to go back the the US, but I’m not sure what my status is. Is there a way for me to go back? What are my options?

    BTW, very helpful site.

    1. Natalia,

      To start with, your green card (Form I-551) is not valid for reentry to the U.S. since you’ve been abroad one year straight. So you won’t get back in without an SB-1 returning resident visa from a U.S. Consulate or a documentary waiver by CBP. Either would require strong proof that when you left the U.S. and straight through until now you intended to keep your main home in the U.S. and to be abroad merely “temporarily” (as defined above). In addition, you’d need to prove to the Consulate that your prolonged stay abroad for over a year was “beyond your control” (or to CBP that there was “good cause” for not returning to the U.S. within a year). If you can’t prove that, you’ve lost your LPR status and need to start the green card process over again. You’ll need to see if there is a way to apply for the green card–a U.S. citizen son or daughter can’t file til age 21. May be time to consult with an immigration lawyer.

  72. Hi Gary, I’ve been an LPR for 3 years and travel frequently. Most recently, I came back to the US after a little over a year, and CBP stopped me. After extended questioning, I was allowed to enter the US and was told orally to “inform” the CBP before I leave the US next time. I am planning to go abroad to take care of my U.S. citizen parents, but I am not sure how to “inform” CBP (or USCIS?). I am not intending to stay outside of US for more than 6 months. What do you suggest?

    1. Phiz: You aren’t allowed to return to the U.S. with just a green card after staying abroad for a year straight, but it sounds like CBP waived your entry document requirement, as described in my post. I suggest you talk to a lawyer to analyze whether your stay abroad has been temporary to date and will be temporary in the future, including what evidence you should collect of that. Also, discuss with the lawyer whether to apply to USCIS for a reentry permit. (You’re right that there is no legal mechanism to get pre-authorization from CBP for a trip abroad.)

      The reason I advise caution is that you may be at risk of abandoning your LPR status. The fact that CBP recently admitted you to the U.S. doesn’t prevent an Immigration Judge from deciding that you’ve abandoned your status. In other words, the most recent entry doesn’t “cure” a prior abandonment.

  73. I am US citizen and my parents got green cards in 2008. Due to my father’s illness, my parents went back to India in 2008 (after staying 6 months in U.S.). Last month my father passed away, now I want to bring my mom here. Although she has a green card, she’s been away from the U.S. for about 5 years now. How this will work? Can she re-enter with the green card or should I get visiting visa?

    1. Rashmi: As to whether your mom’s stay in India counts as “temporary” for purposes of maintaining her LPR status, I’d need to know more facts. But you can see a summary of the caselaw above in my answers to Rick, Lourdes, and KK.

      Assuming for the moment that your mother has abandoned LPR status, then she could go through the green card application process again: you could file a new Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for her, then she could apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate abroad.

      You also ask about whether she should get a B1/B2 (visitor for work or pleasure) visa. A couple thoughts about that. The visa requires that she prove nonimmigrant intent, and where the applicant is a widow the consular officer often presumes that she lacks such intent but instead is seeking to immigrate to the U.S. to live with the U.S. citizen son or daughter. So it could be hard to qualify–unless you have substantial evidence to overcome the consular officer’s concerns (e.g., you mom has a job abroad, owns real estate, and/or has other sons and daughters living abroad, etc.). Also, be careful to tell the truth in a B1/B2 application–any misrepresentation could make your mom permanently ineligible for U.S. visas.

  74. Good Morning, I was a permanent resident since I was very young, but my parents decided to leave the U.S and I had no choice but to go with them. It’s now 13 years later. Once when I was transiting through the States I was told my status still says I’m a resident. How can I know for sure? And what would I have to do to get full resident status back?

    1. Freddy,

      If a parent abandons LPR status, a minor child will be held to have abandoned status as well if the child is within the parent’s custody and control. The parent’s intent is “imputed” to the unemancipated child because the child is unable to form his or her own meaningful intention.

      The Supreme Court, in Holder v. Martinez Gutierrez (2012), suggests an interesting corollary: an LPR child living within the custody and control of an LPR parent cannot have be deemed to have abandoned status if the parent has not. The Court cites, in dicta, to an unpublished BIA decision that an LPR child who returned to Canada for 7 years with his mother, with only brief yearly returns to the U.S., cannot be held to have abandoned LPR status because his mother maintained her LPR status and, in fact, was later naturalized.

      So a lawyer analyzing your situation would first need to know the age at which you departed the U.S. and your current age, as well as whether your parents have abandoned or retained their LPR status.

      If you have abandoned LPR status, then you’ll need to begin the green card application process all over again.

  75. Hi Gary,
    I had my greencard last year through work sponsorship. After about 4 months, I had a car accident and became scared of driving. I then left my job and went back home as I know it would be very difficult for me to live in US without driving as I live on my own. It’s now been 5 mos since I left US and is thinking of trying it again living and look for a job in US once I had some driving lessons here to get my confidence back in driving. I still have bank account in US but no credit card. I also still have my driving license. I took an agency job here which means I only work on as need to basis with no permanent contract. My question is, will I be allowed to go back using my greencard? Or will they tell me that I have already abandoned my LPR status? I didn’t know about re-entry permit at the time I left so I wasn’t able to apply for one.

    Thank you so much,
    Jen

    1. Jen,

      Sorry to hear about your car accident. You don’t need a reentry permit because (a) you’ve been abroad for under 1 year straight, and (b) you haven’t been abroad for 6+ months as an LPR for 2 years in a row. Your I-551 will be good for readmission to the U.S. You’ll be subject to less scrutiny from CBP if you enter before you’ve been abroad for 6 months. But your trip sounds to me like it meets the definition of “temporary.” Carry with you at the port of entry evidence of the purpose of your stay abroad and your ties to the U.S.

  76. Hey Gary,

    I’m a Canadian national and got my green card a year ago. I return to the states for a few weeks every other month. Because of my current situation my job in Canada fits best for my career goals, till I can find employment in the states. For a long haul trucker is it possible to keep the LPR. I’m considering to study part-time at a American University and to work part-time at a long haul Canadian truck company. Or should I apply for a re-entry permit?

    Also I was looking at the option to surrender my LPR, but of course then I also surrender American career opportunities. but my only major concern after that is, would I still be able to enter the USA on my Canadian passport when my work brings me here? and then if I ever want to get a green card again, how hard will it be to get one?

    Thanks in advance,
    Syed

    1. Syed: You raise a question not addressed in my above post–what are the rights of a “commuter alien”? This term is defined by regulations (8 C.F.R. § 211.5) to include some LPRs who live in Canada or Mexico and “commute … to his or her place of employment in the United States” for “regular” or “seasonal” employment. They may be able to preserve their LPR status despite living in Canada, although they can’t establish naturalization eligibility.

      1. Oh thank you, but the company is Canadian but travels into the united states as well? is that considered a legal commuter alien PR status?

  77. Good Morning. I am an LPR from Mexico.l My husband is a US Citizen. We separated in August 2012, and I came back to Mexico. I stayed in Mexico for 11 months and went back to the USA in July 2013. The officer at the airport just asked me how long I had been outside of the country. I told him almost a year due to my mom’s illness. He did not ask any other questions, he just told me to apply for a re-entry permit if I needed to be outside of the country for such a long period of time and let me in. I stayed in USA for 1 week and came back to Mexico. I have being in Mexico for one month and I am planning to go back to USA at the end of September. Will I have any problems getting in? Will the officer know my prior travel history? I have strong ties to USA and I am not divorced yet. I am actually going back to my husband. Thanks!

    1. Christina: Tricky question. Any answer by me based on these skeletal facts is just speculation. You may benefit from actual legal advice by a lawyer who learns the complete facts of the case.

      The main question that may be in the mind of a CBP officer when you are at the port of entry is, what was your intent when you separated from your husband in August 2012 and moved to Mexico, and what has been your intent since then? As mentioned above, a prolonged stay abroad only counts as “temporary” if you have a “continuous, uninterrupted intention to return” to live in the U.S. upon completion of a relatively concrete and limited purpose for being abroad. A CBP officer could believe that when you separated from your husband you left for Mexico with the intention either to give up your home in the U.S. or to “wait and see” if you would patch things up with your husband and move back to the U.S. Neither of these is good because they’re not a “continuous, uninterrupted” intention for the U.S. to be your home.

      The officer will have access on his or her PC to your prior U.S. exits and entries. Even though your most recent stay in Mexico has been short (July to Sept.), still you need to be prepared for the possibility of a more detailed interrogation, including carrying supporting evidence and being prepared to answer questions in a way that’s both truthful and in your best interests.

  78. Mr. Chodorow: My friend in Colombia, born 1994, became an LPR about 5 years ago at age 14. However, due to her mom’s poor health, she returned back to Colombia in 2009 and is currently still there. While she was there, she was told she would receive her green card via mail, but it never arrived: it was lost in the mail. Due to the fact the she was very young at the time, she ignored the fact that she never received her green card. Now she is attempting to return to the U.S. to continue her studies. Her ties to the U.S include her U.S. citizen adoptive father. She was told that she needed to write a letter to the US Embassy in Colombia explaining why she stayed so long. However, we are wondering what are her options in this case? Thank you.

    1. Frank: Sounds like your Colombian friend is about age 19. After 5 years straight abroad, she can expect problems returning to the U.S., and she should consult with an immigration lawyer. (Blatant advertisement–our firm helps clients worldwide with these issues).

      The first issue is to analyze whether she’s abandoned her LPR status, which as explained above, turns on whether she has been out for a “temporary” purpose. Periods during which she was an unemancipated minor probably turn not on her own intent but on the intent of the parent in whose custody and control she resided. You mention that at one time her mother was in poor health, but it’s unclear from the facts stated why your friend remains abroad.

      Assuming she hasn’t abandoned her LPR status, the second issue is that she has no valid entry document. She’ll need to decide if it’s feasible to apply for an SB-1 returning resident visa and applying for waiver of the entry document requirement at a port of entry to the U.S. The SB-1 visa could be hard because she’d need to prove that her stay abroad has been beyond her control. But just getting to a U.S. port of entry to apply for a discretionary documentary waiver may also be a challenge because she has no unexpired entry documents (like an unexpired green card) to allow her to board a plane to the U.S.

      If the analysis shows she’s likely abandoned her LPR status or likely to be denied both an SB-1 visa and a documentary waiver, then her father can start the process again for her. This should be done sooner rather than later because if she immigrates while she’s under age 21 and single she will have no waiting list, but afterwards the wait can be substantial.

  79. My husband is an American military and he received orders to go to Turkey for one year. I am a green card holder and I’m planning on going to my home country Brazil for 7 months and come back to US where i live and stay for one week so my husband can come from Turkey and visit me and after that I will be going back to my home country for another 5 months and then finally after that come back to US so I can be finally reunited with my husband after a year away. So my question is do I still need take the reentry permit if I will be back in less then year to visit my husband?

    1. Christiane: The short answer is that you don’t need a reentry permit unless you will be out for 1 year straight or for 6+ months for two years in a row. But since you will be out for 6+ months for one year, when you renter, carry your marriage certificate and a copy of your husband’s military orders. Explain you are living abroad just for the period of his assignment in Turkey.

  80. Hi, I am an American citizen, and my husband is British. We resided in America for almost 10 years, and my husband had a green card. We moved back to the UK 4 years ago, and my husband’s green card expired. We had no idea that letting the green card expire could have negative ramifications such as ‘abandonment’, which was never our intention! We are planning on returning back to the States in 3 years time. What do we/I need to do to get my husbands green card re-instated and will the expiration of the card be a negative aspect toward renewal?
    Many thanks.

    1. Debra: Allowing the green card to expire doesn’t lead to abandonment of LPR status–but staying abroad for period’s not counting as “temporary” (within the above definition) does. The good news is that since you’re a U.S. citizen it’s possible to file a new Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of your husband so that he can re-immigrate. The prior abandonment isn’t a negative factor: a non-temporary stay abroad isn’t bad, it’s just inconsistent with LPR status. I suggest you consult with an immigration lawyer (yes–shameless plug–our firm can help) to make sure there are no other hidden issues for your husband to reimmigrate and to decide the schedule for beginning the process.

      One more thing: since your husband hasn’t filed a Form I-407 to formally abandon his LPR status, he may have continuing U.S. tax liabilities. Talk to the lawyer and an accountant about whether it would be wise to file the Form I-407.

  81. My wife is a green card holder. She came to Pakistan for our marriage and got pregnant. She wanted to return to the U.S. but the doctor advised her not to travel due to complications in her pregnancy. She gave birth to a baby who was 2 months premature. Now she’s been abroad for 10 and a half months. She wants to go back along her baby before completion of 1 year. The U.S. Embassy already replied that the baby doesn’t need a visa.

    1) Can she enter the U.S. along with her baby on her first entry with in a year?
    2) What are the required documents for her and her baby to carry in order to travel and enter the U.S.?

    1. Khan: Congratulations on your new wife and baby! If your wife is out of the U.S. for under 1 year straight, her unexpired green card will serve as an entry document. Since she’s been abroad for over 6 months, a good conservative strategy to avoid a CBP charge of abandonment is to carry evidence of the temporary purpose of her stay abroad. That would include, for example, your marriage certificate, the baby’s birth certificate, and medical records regarding the complications in the birth. (It may be overly conservative in your case, but my typical advice is that since CBP officers can’t be expected to read or understand detailed medical records they should include a 1-page summary in plain English). Further evidence of your wife’s temporary purpose for staying abroad should include evidence of her U.S. ties.

      Since this article focuses just on preserving LPR status, I won’t go into the requirements and procedures for the baby to enter without a visa. The general rules is that no immigrant visa is required in the case of a child born during the “temporary” visit abroad of a mother who is an LPR, so long as the child’s application for admission to the U.S. is made within 2 years of birth and the child accompanies an LPR parent on their first return to the U.S. after the child’s birth. 8 C.F.R. § 211.1(b).

  82. Hi. My grandmother was a green card holder since 2003. She went to China in 2006 to seek medical treatment for herself and to visit her husband. She thought she would not last long and would not come back to the U.S. But after a few years of treatment, her health recovered. Meanwhile, her husband got a stroke, was paralyzed, and then passed away. Now, she wants to return to the U.S. to reunite with her children. All her 5 children and 10+ grandchildren are in the U.S. She is the only one left abroad. Her green card has been misplaced as well. Can you advise what is the best way for her to reunite with her family in the U.S.? Does she has to reapply I-130 over or a different forms? Thank you.

    1. Mary: You say that during her prolonged stay abroad she gave up the intent to return to the U.S. This fits within the definition of abandonment. So, yes, the strategy may well be for a U.S. citizen son or daughter to begin by filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on her behalf.

  83. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

    I became an LPR on the basis of marriage to a U.S. citizen. In 2006, my Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence, was approved, and I got a 10-year green card. I moved to the Netherlands to work for my company. Me and my ex-wife ended up divorcing. My green card doesn’t expire til 2016. Am I still allowed to enter the United States? If not, what actions should I take?

    Best Regards,
    George

    1. George: It’s time to talk with a U.S. immigration lawyer. You’ve very likely abandoned your LPR status unless you’ve been working abroad for a U.S. company. You may need to work out a new immigration plan. Also, it may be wise to file a Form I-407, Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status, for tax reasons.

  84. Hello. I live in Iran and I’ve been a green card holder for 5 years. Each year, I’ve gone to the USA once every 6 months and stayed there for 20 days. But now my university says I can’t leave Iran until I’ve finished my studies here. (My university is a free, public school, where I study medicine.) I have 4 years left to finish my university here. How do I keep my LPR status?

    1. Yas: You’re in a difficult situation. For the first 5 years of your LPR status, you’ve merely been “touching down” in the U.S., not living there. And for the subsequent 4 years you won’t even “touch down.” Obviously, you won’t have a valid entry document at the end of those 4 years because an I-551 is invalid as an entry document once you’ve been abroad for a year, and even if you apply for and receive a reentry permit it’s valid for a maximum of 2 years. It’s worth the investment to meet with an immigration lawyer to plan how you will keep a valid entry document and document your temporary purpose abroad as well as your U.S. ties.

      On the bright side, the leading case of Serpico v. Trudell, 46 F.2d 669 (D. Ver. 1928) involved a boy sent to Italy for schooling for 10 years–secondary through medical schools. The case held that he didn’t abandon LPR status because his purpose wasn’t to remain abroad indefinitely or to practice his profession there. Instead, he intended upon graduation to return to the U.S. home kept for him by his parents.

        1. Yas: Is this a trick question? Our law firm represents clients worldwide (including Iranians) in cases related to avoiding abandonment of permanent resident status. We’d be pleased to schedule a consultation. For more information, see here.

  85. My mother has a green card.
    She doesn’t want to be a US citizen.
    But she wants to maintain her green card.
    In order to do so she lives in US for more than 180 days every year.
    So far so good.
    The problem is this time around she has some important work in India.
    So she will not be able to come back to US within 180 days.
    She left for India on 31st March 2013 and is currently in India.
    What can I do in the US, so that she doesn’t default on her green card?
    I am told that if she stays more than 180 days in India she will have issue at the port of entry when she comes back. Please advice.
    Thanks

    1. Vaishali,

      First, assuming your mother has no reentry permit, she needs to return before she’s been out 1 year straight. Otherwise, her green card isn’t valid as an entry document.

      Second, you’re right that CBP will look more closely at the abandonment once she’s been out for more than six months.

      But I can’t really comment on whether your mother may be able to maintain or will be forced to abandon her LPR status because you haven’t explained how long your mother will be working in India or in what sense that work is temporary. Nor have you explained the extent of her U.S. ties. And without that information, I’m also not in a position to advise what you can do to help your mother maintain her U.S. ties, since I don’t know what they are. Can you help her file her taxes, buy a house, find a job, renew her membership in a church or other religious organization? The permutations are endless.

      Maybe the best thing you can do is to help your mother schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer to get some solid advice she can rely on. (Shameless advertising: our firm advises clients worldwide on these issues.)

  86. Dear Gary,
    I met my partner 9 months after his American wife passed away (I am also American). We lived in the US for a year and a half with his young daughter, but were enduring a lot of emotional struggles and needed some support. We came to Australia, intending to stay for part of the year to be with his family. When he returned to the US to make preparations for us all to return, his daughter became very distraught that he had gone back to the country where her mummy had died by himself. He returned to Australia, and we remained for another year. Now, neither he nor his daughter have been back for over a year.

    She is older now and understands that going back could be good for us as a family, but we are concerned that they won’t qualify for the SB-1 visa because it was a choice to remain. Also, he hasn’t worked a regular job in the last 3 years, so has never filed US taxes. It makes it difficult to show strong ties to the US, other than through me, but we aren’t married. Should we even bother applying for the SB-1, or will he just have to start the whole process over again?

    Thank you for any advice.

    1. Hi Sara,

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. If it was his choice to remain abroad–and it was within his control to return to the U.S.–then he won’t get the SB-1 returning resident visa. As to whether he would be readmitted at a CBP port of entry based on a waiver of the entry document requirement, that turns on a lighter standard–whether he had “good cause” to stay abroad and what U.S. ties he kept. A discussion of these issues turns on the totality of the evidence, so I wouldn’t speculate based on the brief info here. If that waiver isn’t a good option, he can apply to re-immigrate.

  87. Hi,
    First of all thanks for this rich information, I’m taking care of my mom in my home country (Iraq) because she has serious problems in her kidneys. I left the USA for about 165 days and I showed the evidence that she had a surgery upon my return to the USA. But then I had to return to Iraq again to take care of her, and that’s where I am now. I will go to the USA again in a few days, before I’ve been out for 6 months straight. I’m wondering if I may be questioned by CBP. And what shall I do for future trips since my mom still needs me–all my brothers and sisters are married, and I’m the only one whose single and can give her all my time. I’m working in Iraq so I can afford her medical treatment. Please advise.

    1. Nabeel,
      Your dedication to your sick mother is admirable. The U.S. government’s determination as to whether an LPR’s stay abroad to care for a sick relative is fact intensive. See my above conversation with Lourdes about relevant factors to consider. Assuming that a strong enough case can be made that your trip is temporary, you’ll need to collect documentation of the purpose (including its temporary nature) and of how your ties to the U.S. are strong. Your work in Iraq and the presence there of your mother and siblings are negative factors in the sense that they show strong ties to Iraq not the U.S. Applying for a reentry permit is one additional type of evidence you could collect of the temporary nature of your stay abroad and your U.S. ties. Wishing your mother a speedy recovery,
      Gary

  88. Hi,
    My family and I (I have 3 children aged:15,17,22)are having green card for 5 years.we live in Iran.one year ago my husband and I went to the USA as always(we went there every 6 month but always with my children)but this time the officer write “advised” in both of our passport and take us to secondary room and an officer told us that if this time we go out when we come back they will get our green card and ask me to sign a paper.we decided to stay but my children told me that my mom got lukemia.so we came back and we didn’t even ask for reentry permit. From then my children are in Iran with us beacuse I’m afraid if they go,they will deport them because of what they told me.im mom is going to chemotrapy every week so I can’t leave her.what can I do?

    1. Sara,

      I understand you need to be in Iran to take care of your sick mother. The questions relevant to avoiding abandonment are, (a) how much can you arrange to be in the U.S.?, (b) what ties can you maintain to the U.S.?, (c) can/should you apply for a reentry permit, and (d) in what sense is your stay in Iran to take care of your sick mother “temporary”–see my above discussion with Lourdes about this.

  89. Hi,
    Can someone who lost his green card because of abandonment (being outside of the U.S. for 4 years) qualify for an educational visa?

    1. Alexandra: A former LPR can apply for a nonimmigrant visa (like a B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa or F-1 student visa). One key requirement for the visa is proving nonimmigrant intent, meaning that you don’t intend to immigrate to the U.S. but instead just stay temporarily for a limited purpose corresponding to the visa type. Previously holding LPR status is a sign that you may seek to immigrate again, but previously abandoning LPR status is a sign that you may intend to continue to reside abroad and go to the U.S. only temporarily for a limited purpose. The officer will need to assess the facts of your case to decide.

  90. My wife got a green card on in 2010. She goes to the States every 6 months for 1 month and then return to Jordan. We married in August 2013 and she went to the state in September to apply for a green card for me, but the officer at the airport interrogated her about the reason for her long stay abroad. She replied that she was outside the U.S. for marriage. Then he asked her about why I wasn’t coming to the U.S. She replied that she coming also to apply for me. The officer said maybe she had abandoned her green card and in the end put a note on her passport that she out was abroad for 7 months .

    What are the consequences of the note? How can my wife most safely return to me in Saudi Arabia without losing her green card?

    1. Mohamed: The CBP officer’s note in your wife’s passport is a warning that if she continues to stay abroad primarily then next time she enters the U.S. the CBP officer may refer her to an immigration judge to determine whether she’s abandoned her LPR status. It’s time for your wife to carefully plan to increase the relative strength of her U.S. versus foreign ties, document the temporary nature of her stays abroad, and probably apply for a reentry permit. If you want to take a conservative approach to make sure she doesn’t lose the green card, your wife should seek the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney and perhaps not depart the U.S. until the application for a reentry permit has been approved.

      1. Dear Gary,
        Many thanks for you reply. How much time does the reentry permit process take? And does it have any bad consequences in my wife citizenship, green card, or my green card process?
        Regards,
        Mohamed.

  91. Hi Mr. Chodorow, thank you for all the great information. My question concerns my wife who is a US Permanent Resident. She and my two daughters left the US on October 22 last year in order to visit her family in Serbia while I finished up my graduate studies, worked, and searched for a job. I eventually decided to come and join them in Serbia on February 28. We have been living in Serbia since, and I even received temporary residence status so that I can be here legally for over 90 days and to be able to work. I have been working since May, but we decided last month that I should go back to the US for better opportunities. My plan was to leave in October and have my wife and girls join me in December: the thinking was that I could go and stay with my parents for a bit and find a job and set up everything before my family came over. The only “snafoo” to this plan occurred after we found out that she cannot travel back on her Green Card after being away for a year. We also saw that she may be hassled a bit about her intentions of coming back to the US and remaining a permanent resident. We did buy tickets to return on October 11, but we’ve been having some second thoughts about going at all, especially her and my daughters since we have a nice and established life here in Serbia. I brought up another solution that she could travel back to the US after her Green Card travel period elapses by obtaining a tourist visa and staying with me for some time every year, but I hear it is difficult to obtain a tourist visa for those who are married to a US citizen. Can you please provide me with any advice, especially regarding how she could be hassled at the airport, can her permanent resident status be taken away after she is admitted, and is it at all possible for her to get a tourist visa later. Thank you so much for an help!

    1. Ian:

      If I understand correctly, you are a U.S. citizen and your goal is to have your family live abroad. Your only concern is whether your wife will be eligible for a B1/B2 visitor for business or pleasure in order to visit the U.S. The B1/B2 visa requires that an applicant prove nonimmigrant intent, meaning that he or she does not intend to immigrate. To qualify for the visa, she’ll need to prove she has strong ties abroad that will compel her to return abroad after a temporary U.S. trip. In your wife’s case, the evidence points in two contradictory directions: on the one hand, she’s married to a U.S. citizen and previously immigrated, making it seem that she’s likely to immigrate again. On the other hand, if she previously had a green card and abandoned it, that shows that she could live in the U.S. but has chosen not to, so her trip to the U.S. is likely to be temporary. One common type of advice that we give to clients in these situations is that to make the evidence of nonimmigrant intent stronger our clients should affirmatively go to a USCIS office or U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and file the USCIS Form I-407, Abandonment of Permanent Resident Status. This is helpful evidence of nonimmigrant intent. We typically recommend that our clients speak with a tax advisor before filing that form in order to minimize the tax consequences and that the B1/B2 visa application be filed shortly after the Form I-407.

      If in the future you decide to move your family back to the U.S., then you can begin the immigrant visa application process all over again.

      If you want to avoid the abandonment and re-immigration dance, another possibility is for your wife to apply for and be granted U.S. citizenship. Then she can live abroad freely without putting her ability to return to the U.S. at risk.

  92. Dear Gary,
    I got my green card in 2006. During the last 3 years I’ve stayed mostly in China working on a project for a client in the US. I entered NY on October 18, 2012 and got a stamp ARC DA6707177. Then I re-entered again on Apr. 30, 2013 at Dallas and got a stamp “ARC OUT 4 MOS.” I’m planning to enter again Oct. 15 in NY. Is it OK if I enter twice a year? What if I want to stay abroad for one more year? Thanks.

    1. Sounds like your circumstances require you to consider applying for a reentry permit.

      Our firm often advises clients to apply for a reentry permit if either (a) they are likely to be abroad for one year or more straight, (b) they are likely to be abroad for more than 6 months straight for two or more years in a row; or (c) they have been warned by CBP that they are at risk of abandonment.

      Beyond that, you may be well-advised to carefully document the relative strength of your ties in the U.S. versus abroad and the temporary nature of your stay abroad.

      1. Hi,

        I am a 20 year old college student at California State University, Bakersfield. I have been a LPR since November of 2011. Next academic year (2014-15) will be my third year of college and I want to study abroad in Florence, Italy. One academic year is usually 9 to 10 months long. Since I would be out of the country for more than 6 months, would I need a reentry permit? The trip is only for the study abroad purpose. I would leave my car, bank accounts, and most of my belongings here in the US. What kind of documentation do you recommend I show the CBP officer to prove I only left the US to study abroad but my intention is to finish college here in California?

        Thank you for any help!!

        1. Assuming that there are no negative factors (e.g., you’ve applied for Italian permanent residence, you’ve made other extended trips abroad, or you’ve been warned by CBP about abandonment), a junior year abroad is pretty clearly “temporary.” Be ready to show the related paperwork upon return to the U.S., such as your study-abroad paperwork and perhaps transcripts and evidence of registration for the following semester at CSU. It’s safest to be prepared to show the evidence of your U.S. ties too. Since you won’t be abroad for 1 year straight, or for 6+ months two years in a row, and since you haven’t been warned by CBP about abandonment, you don’t need a reentry permit.

  93. Hello Mr. Chodorow

    I am a green card holder and immigrated to the U.S. in 2005. I stayed there for 4 years with my family. When I finished high school, my father decided we should return back to our home town in Macedonia. I didn’t want to, but I had to agree with him because of financial problems. I was only 18 then. Now, I’ve been in Macedonia for 2 years. I want to return to the U.S. Is it possible to reenter the country again with my green card?

    1. Your “financial problems” requiring you to return to Macedonia for two years pose a challenge. To get back to the U.S., you’ll need an SB1 returning resident visa or a documentary waiver granted by CBP. In either case, you’ll need to prove your stay abroad meets the definition of “temporary.” I’d advise you consult with our firm or another qualified immigration lawyer about this.

  94. Dear Mr Chodorow,

    How I wish I had read your blog sooner. I was under the impression that as long as I re-enter the US within a year, everything will be fine. Now going through the CBP website again, I do realise that they write a note about re-entering over 180 days.

    I last left the US on 25 March 2013 and originally planned to enter on 19 September 2013. but in the end I changed my travel plans and plan to re-enter only on 8th October 2013. If only I read your blog sooner then I would have stuck to my original plan. How stringent are they on the 180 days?

    Also, previously I entered the US in October 2012 and they wrote LPR on the stamp. However, when I entered in March 2013, they wrote A2 on the stamp. What does that mean? They did not give me any warning or question me at POE.

    I’m really stressing out now and wondering whether I’m going to be in trouble when I fly in next week.

    Thanks!

    1. Ann,

      The fact that you may be out 6 months straight just means that CBP may scrutinize more closely whether your stay abroad has been “temporary” within the meaning above. I’d need to know more facts to analyze how minimal or how great the risk is to your LPR status. In general it’s helpful to carry evidence of your temporary purpose abroad and how your ties to the U.S. are stronger than your ties abroad.

      P.S.: Look again at the March 2013 entry stamp. It may say “ARC,” meaning that you presented a green card, also known as an alien registration card (ARC).

  95. My mother wants to gain Permanent Residency Status just so she can petition my brother to the US. My questions are:

    1. After all the paperwork goes through for my brother, does she have to maintain resident in the US for my brother to stay in the US?

    2. If she can leave the US, does it mean she can only stay outside the US less than 6 months/year?

    Thank you!!!

    1. In short, yes, your brother can only immigrate based on a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, by your LPR mother if your LPR mother retains her LPR status. Once your brother has immigrated, your mother’s subsequent abandonment of LPR status is not a problem.

  96. My mom get 10 years green card ,but she was here US short time and she go back Africa almost 3 years ago. Now she want came back what we have to do now ?

    1. Unless she falls within the narrow group who can qualify for an SB1 returning resident visa or a documentary waiver by CBP, as described above, she’ll need to apply for LPR status again from the very beginning.

  97. I am legal resident from august 2013. I stayed in US for 2 weeks. I opened an account at bank and got a social security card. But I haven’t yet received my green card, just the LPR stamp in my passport. I have to finish some some work and an English course abroad, which will take 5 months. Does this sound like a problem?

    1. No. As I told Paola above, many people who are granted immigrant visas to the U.S. need to return abroad for a period of time to finish up school or a work project, or to sell a business, a house, or other assets. Your purpose sounds temporary. Assuming you’re out for under 6 months, you probably won’t be interrogated in detail about your purpose in being abroad or your ties to the U.S., although it’s safest to carry related proof. Another key is that you need a valid entry document: your unexpired LPR stamp, or your green card.

  98. Hi,

    My name is Elizabeth. My parents supposed to come back from ethiopia october 9th. But their son is getting married January 25 2014, and they wanted to come back in February. Is their green card still at risk since they are staying abroad for 10 months?

    1. Elizabeth: Anybody abroad for 6 months or more straight should be prepared for CBP to take a hard look at whether their purposes for being abroad are temporary and at whether their ties to the U.S. outweigh their ties abroad. CBP will decide whether to admit them based on the totality of the facts.

  99. Is this possible to try for green card another time if you loose your green card on time for not being there for more than 2 years?

  100. Hi
    Is it possible to apply for a reentry permit while my family and I are out of the USA for 1 year because my grandmother has leukemia and I’m studying medicine here? (I later want to get additional medical training in the U.S.) If yes, can they mail the reentry permit to my country?

  101. Hello! Your website was very helpful with answering my questions but i was hoping to get some further insight on my situation.

    I have been in the US since I was one and have been a green card holder for as long as i can remember. I have multiple ties to the US – my parents are living in the US, I went to college here, I have bank accounts, pay car insurance etc.

    Last spring i was out of the US for 3 months doing a scuba diving internship in Thailand. I am now back in the US, but i am planning to travel back to Asia for 6-8 months and i am worried that this will be a problem when i return. I called USCIS and all they could tell me is that any absence under a year is not a problem – as long as my green card is still valid. However, i’ve read multiple other places online that this is not the case.

    1. does my past absence have anything to do with my future plans?
    2. Since i have such strong ties to the US, should i be worried if i stay out of the US for more then 6 months during this future trip?

    Thank you!

    1. Caroline:

      1. Does your past absence matter? Yes, when determining whether a person has abandoned LPR status, CBP will look at the totality of the facts. Consider, for example, this extreme case: a person spent 50 years abroad, reentered the U.S., then left again and attempted to return again the same day, at which point he was interrogated in detail by CBP. He abandoned LPR status during the prior stay abroad even though the problem didn’t come to CBP’s attention until later.

      2. You haven’t stated what the purpose of your upcoming 6-8 month travel abroad is. Your purpose is key for determining whether your stay abroad is temporary. Consider, for example, this extreme case: an LPR leaves the U.S., swearing to herself that she will never return. The same day, she changes her mind and attempts to re-enter. According to the Board of Immigration Appeals in the leading case, Matter of Kane, “the intention” of the LPR, “when it can be determined, will control.” So she has abandoned LPR status.

      Your case doesn’t sound like either of these extreme examples. But the point of my article is that if you will be abroad for 6 months straight then a conservative approach is to be prepared to document the temporary purpose of your trip abroad and your strong ties to the U.S.

      1. Thank you for your response!

        The purpose of my future travel plans is just for pleasure, I plan to backpack around Southeast Asia, possibly volunteer, etc. but with no intention to “abandon” my residency as you said. I plan to return to the US after these months abroad and work/live as normal.

  102. Dear Gary,
    Thanks so much for this great website. Would it be advisable to apply for a returning resident visa? I’m finishing physician study/training abroad. The last time i was in the US was a year and a half ago, and things were tough on the borders as they did speak to me about options to abandon my green card because am only visiting in between semesters. My next trip is one way to the US as my program has ended.I have documents to prove it. I am planning to reside in the US permanently now.

    I understand it;s a tough situation and i might end up seeing a judge in court. are my chances good to still defend myself and retain my green card. my ties to the US are mainly family,my brother lives there.

    1. Rima,

      As to whether you’ve abandoned your LPR status, see my above conversation with Naureen about whether studying abroad counts as “temporary.”

      As to dealing with the fact that your green card is invalid as an entry document since you’ve been out for over 1 year straight, an SB1 returning resident visa may be tough. How will you meet the requirement that your “stay abroad was for reasons beyond the alien’s control and for which the alien was not responsible”? (9 FAM 42.22 N1.2). A may viable option may be to apply to CBP for a documentary waiver.

      If you don’t have a simple way to re-immigrate (e.g., a U.S. citizen immediate relative), then it may be a worthwhile investment to consult with our firm or another qualified immigration attorney about your options.

  103. Hi. My dad was an LPR. He left the U.S. about 8 years ago to take care of my grandmother back in Ecuador. Now that my grandmother has died, he is looking to come back to U.S. Since we are the only family he has (me and my bothers are all U.S. citizens), what can he do to return? Can we help with the process?

    1. Maria,

      Your father may qualify to re-immigrate as the parent of a U.S. citizen (“immediate relative”). Unless he has very clear evidence of his purpose for being in Ecuador for the last 8 years and of his ongoing ties to the U.S., he doesn’t have the option of getting an SB1 returning resident visa or getting a CBP documentary waiver to enter based on his old LPR status.

  104. My mother got her green card in 2011 and she filed I-130s for her unmarried son and daughter over age 21. Will it affect her son and daughter’s case if she gets a reentry permit and stays abroad for one year?

    1. Applying for and using the reentry permit to stay abroad temporarily and then return to the U.S. consistent with the purpose mentioned in the application will preserve your mother’s LPR status. The I-130s will not be impacted. In contrast, I-130s are invalidated if the petitioner abandons LPR status before the beneficiaries immigrate.

  105. Sir,
    I applied last year for my parents to come to the US. I am a US citizen, and I want them to come and live permanently, but they’ve decided that they don’t want to live in the US more than 2 months. From my understanding, applying for a green card is useless. Should I proceed with the green card applications? (I paid all the fees and still have one to go before the medical exam) Or stop the process and just let them apply for a tourist visa? My fear to reject the tourist visa when they go to apply.

    Thanks in advance,
    Elie

    1. Elie,

      To qualify for immigrant visas, there’s no requirement that your parents intend to live in the U.S. permanently, as explained here. The immigrant visa and resulting green card just give a person the privilege to reside permanently, if they want to. Of course, the point of the above article is that if they don’t live in the U.S. they will at some point be found to have abandoned their LPR status.

      On the other hand, the main challenge for the B1/B2 visitor’s visa is that your parents must be able to prove nonimmigrant intent. Whether a consular officer can be convinced depends on the totality of the facts and is influenced by factors such as whether they are employed abroad, own property abroad, and have close relatives abroad. It’s also influenced by whether at some point in the past they’ve shown an interest in immigrating, which is where your Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relatives, on their behalf are relevant. If they apply for B1/B2 visas, an officer may accept their word that they don’t intend to immigrate at all or may even be willing to grant them B1/B2 visas based on an understanding that they don’t intend to immigrate until a future trip. Other officers may not feel comfortable granting a B1/B2 visa even if you withdraw the I-130s and they withdraw their immigrant visa applications.

      I definitely wouldn’t offer you and your parents specific advice about how to proceed without a consultation to discuss the matter thoroughly, but I hope this answer helps you begin to think about the issue.

  106. Sir,hello: I’m Abhishek, and i live in Nepal. My mother holds a green card. How long can she stay here in Nepal? It’s been 3 months that she has been here, due to many family issues. What are the things she can do from here to prolong her stay? Also, I’m under 21, and my father applied for me to immigrate 3 months ago. How long will I need to wait? Thank you.

    1. Hi Abhishek,

      The safest thing your mother can do from an immigration law perspective is to spend more than 6 months each year in the U.S., and to limit any single trip abroad to under 6 months. If family issues are preventing her return in under 6 months, she should limit her stay abroad to under 1 year because the green card is not valid for entry if she’s been abroad for more than a year, and she should be prepared to present evidence to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer in the airport that she has maintained ties to the U.S. (see examples listed above) and that she has been abroad for a temporary reason.

      You also mention that your father filed for you to immigrate. He may have filed a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. USCIS is currently taking about 6-12 months to adjudicate I-130s, depending on which office your father filed with. And then there’s the waiting list for your category, F2A (children under age 21 of LPRs). That waiting time will likely be minimal. For the reasons why, see How to Read the State Department’s Visa Bulletin. Then, immigrant visa processing time averages 3-8 months. So total time from when your father filed the I-130 to when you can immigrate is likely to be about 9 to 20 months.

  107. Hello Mr. Chodorow!

    My name is Mary and I`m a permanent resident since January 2010. I lived and worked in USA for 22 months, then unexpectedly my mother got sick and within 24 hours she remained paralysed from the chest down. As you can imagine, I had to go back home and take care of her and be up and down to the hospitals for more than one year. So from October 2011 till August 2012 I was overseas. I terminated my work after a couple of months because my mother needed my help and her health was not improving. I entered US on August 2012 for 10 days and I left again for my mother. The day I entered the CBP asked my why have I been abroad for so long and told me to apply for a Re-entry Permit which I didn`t because my intention was to get back again in the USA and keep living and working there… But I couldn`t do that. So I left and I entered USA again on April 2013. No problems this time… Now I`m planing to go back again on December and again for a short visit because my mother still has a lot of complications and she needs my help… I do not plan to leave the USA, but as soon as we can get someone to take care of my mother I will continue my life back in the USA. I would like to ask you which gate is safer? I plan on entering from JFK, is it ok? Can I travel together with my fiancee, or it will be a problem for me? Is there a risk when I apply for Naturalization latter on? My visits abroad have been longer than 6 months but shorter than one year. Thanks for this helpful site and for your time!

    Regards,

    Mary.

    1. Mary,

      Sorry to hear about your mother. It’s good she’s got your support.

      Sounds like you’ve been basically living overseas since Oct. 2011. I’m not sure what you mean when you say, “I do not plea to leave the USA, but as soon as we can get someone to take care of my mother I will continue my life back in the USA.” I’m going to guess that you mean you plan to go this time for just a short visit in the U.S. then return abroad to find another caregiver for your mother.

      I think you need good evidence to present to CBP, if requested, to show that your stay abroad has been “temporary” within the above definition. Since you haven’t mentioned that your mother’s paralysis is temporary, what you need to show is that your stay abroad is temporary. For example, focus on proving what ties you have NOT established abroad (haven’t purchased a home, taken a job, etc.?) And focus on proving what ties you have retained in the U.S. (a home, a job, a U.S. citizen fiance?) And showing what steps you have taken to re-establish your life in the U.S. (e.g., telling your U.S. employer that your leave of absence is coming to an end or telling renters in your U.S. house that you won’t renew their lease because you’re moving back in) and end your temporary stay abroad (e.g., ads for a caregiver for your mother.

      You haven’t said how much longer you’ll be abroad after your Dec. 2013 trip to the U.S. If it may be a substantial period (e.g., 6 months), perhaps you should consider applying for a reentry permit as one more piece of evidence that your stay abroad is temporary–depending on how strong your other evidence is.

      JFK is usually a decent port of entry, but I’d caution you against using that port of entry if it’s not near your U.S. home. The reason is that if you are placed in Immigration Court proceedings, you want the court to be convenient to where you live.

      Finally, it’s not essential that your fiance accompany you, but if he’s a U.S. citizen, his presence could be helpful evidence of your U.S. ties.

      And for info about how your stay abroad will impact your naturalization eligibility, see here.

  108. Hi Mr. Chodorow,
    I am a naturalized citizen, and my wife has had a green card for the last 5 years. She has been in India for 3 months and 10 days and is planning to return to the USA in the next few days. I will be travelling with her and 2 US-born children. We have a house, job, bank accounts, file taxes in USA. The rest of this year she was in USA. Any reason to be concerned about?
    Thank You
    VB

    1. Vishal: None of the facts I’m hearing raise concerns. Of course, she should be ready for the CBP officer to ask, “what have you been doing abroad?” Hopefully, she has an answer which is both truthful and demonstrates that her stay abroad was “temporary” within the above definition.

  109. Hi, thanks for all the info! I am a us citizen married to a French national. We resided in the US, where he acquired his green card. We had to move back to Europe bc of his job but tried to keep the green card going. We even did the re-entry permit for a couple of years! We decided to willingly return the GC here at the embassy. Now he lost his job and we are thinking about relocating back to the US. Will he be able to get it back? (In the meanwhile, we’ve had 2 kids and they are also US citizens) Will this take long? And is is possible just to apply for a work permit instead of GC?

    1. To get the green card again on the basis of the marriage, you’ll need to first file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of your husband. (Where this is filed depends upon where in Europe you live and what your immigration status is there). Then he’ll need to either apply at a U.S. Consulate abroad for an immigrant visa. (If he were currently in the U.S. the process would vary). There’s no way to reclaim the old green card.

      Depending on the route you go, the process takes 6-16 months. It’s possible to seek a nonimmigrant work visa, such as an H-1B or an L-1, instead of the green card, but not everybody qualifies, and the process can be burdensome. I’d estimate that only 10% of my clients who can choose between applying for the green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen and a nonimmigrant work visa choose the latter.

  110. I am a citizen of Serbia. Now I am in New York and I am waiting for my Green Card to arrive these days. Before I came here I have studied in Italy and I have 5 more exams to finish my bachelor studies in Italy. After bachelor studies I want to go to the master studies to New York.

    How can I be another 2 years in Italy and finish my bachelor studies without that I lose the Green Card?
    PS My aunt lives in New York.

    1. Keep strong ties to the U.S. during your studies. Apply for a reentry permit if (a) you’ll be out 1 year straight, (b) you’ll be out 6+ months for 2 years in a row, or (c) you’ve been warned by CBP about abandonment. See my answers to other students above.

  111. Hi Gary – Thanks for all the great advice you are posting. My family are Canadian citizens but we all have our green cards and I’m working in the US. My daughter has started university in Canada and is just making her first trip home. We’ve checked with our immigration lawyer and he advised that she didn’t require anything to keep her GC valid since she’d be coming home regularly, but from reading your info, she will be in Canada more than 6 months each year, returning to spend Christmas and summer holidays with us. She’s maintained US bank accounts and a Florida driver’s licence, but should we be looking at a re-entry permit just to be safe? Are these permits “rubber stamped” for situations like this, or could we be looking at a situation where USCIS could say no to the permit and she would have to choose between going to school in Canada and keeping her GC?

    Thanks in advance,

    Kevin

    1. Kevin:

      The only time a reentry permit (RP) is required is if the I-551 won’t be valid as an entry document because the LPR has been outside the U.S. for 1 year straight. Beyond that, the RP is just one piece of evidence that the LPR’s stay abroad counts as “temporary.” So do a cost-benefit analysis: First, consider all the evidence of your daughter’s ties to the U.S. showing she intends to return after graduation. Second, consider all her ties to the U.S. which may make it likely she’ll stay there. Maybe, looking at the totality of the facts, it’s clear her stay abroad is temporary. If so, no RP is needed. If it would not be clear to a CBP officer that her stay abroad is temporary, then consider what additional ties to the U.S. she can create–should she buy a house, get a driver’s license, get a summer job, get an RP, etc? If the cost of the RP is lower than the cost of the other types of evidence of ties to the U.S. of equal evidentiary weight, then get the RP.

  112. Hi,
    Me and my wife have lived in the US since 2008. We traveled to India in July 2013 with and employment authorization / advance parole document. (We filed Forms I-485, Applications to Adjust Status, based on an EB2 petition for me. We got our GCs in Sep 2013. I came back in Sep and she is planning to stay there until Jan 2014.

    Did the 180-day rule start from the day that our LPR/GC was approved or from the day we departed the U.S. with the EAD/AP?

    My concern is that whether she will face any issues at POE when coming back in Jan. Our kid is US citizen. Her name is on the bank account also. Please help.

    Thanks
    Suresh

  113. Hello Gary,

    I acquired my green card in Nov 2012. I currently work in a corporation in Cupertino, CA. I’m thinking of relocating to Hong Kong but staying with the same company (they have offices in Asia also). What are my options of keeping the green card valid in case the job doesn’t work out as expected?

    Additional info:
    I also own a house and have been living there since Jan 2011. I have a younger brother (US Citizen) who is attending university full-time in a Master program in Berkeley (graduating Fall 2016) My mother is an LPR since June 2012. She travels back and forth between HK and the states, spending about half the time here and there.

    Thank you very much for your attention! Hope to hear from you soon.

    Regards,
    Kwan

    1. Kwan:

      (a) Is it an option to become a U.S. citizen before you transfer abroad?
      (b) Where is this company incorporated? Where is its headquarters? If it is publicly traded, on which stock exchange(s)? If it is privately traded, what is the nationality of the owner(s) of the majority of its shares?
      (c) Are you thinking about signing up in HK as a local hire there, or are you thinking about taking a temporary assignment from the Cupertino office?

      1. Hi Gary,

        (a) Yes, this is always an option. But I have to wait another 4 years before I can naturalize to become a US citizen. This is the reason I want to try a different environment, but still be able to have a backup plan if overseas doesn’t work out.
        (b) I work at Apple Inc. HQ in Cupertino, CA.
        (c) 2 options. 1st option – Expat package for 1-2 years, which might be tough to get. 2nd option – local hire in HK (yes, big pay cut), probably easier.

        Many thanks! Hope to hear back from you soon.
        Kwan

        1. Kwan,

          Apple is a U.S. company within the relevant definition (incorporated in the U.S. and traded exclusively on a U.S. stock exchange). See my above advice to Dan about how even indefinite employment abroad for a U.S. company may count as “temporary” for purposes of preserving LPR status, so long as you intend to return to the U.S. upon completion of the employment.

          Notice, however, that people abroad for a prolonged period must, for purposes of preserving LPR stratus have a continuous intent to return to the U.S. upon completion of the employment. So if the government were to realize that you are going overseas with the intent to make your permanent home there but just want the green card as a “backup plan,” the government would say you’ve abandoned your LPR status the moment you step foot outside the U.S. It’s harsh but true.

  114. Hi Gary,

    I just want to ask what should I do to go back in the US..

    *I got my permanent resident card 11/06 expires on 12/16

    stayed in US more than a year and went back to Philippines less than 6 months….
    then I went back again to US(Guam) for at least 6-7 months because I was diagnosed having Tuberculosis so(TB) so I decided to go back to Philippines without any re-entry permit or etc… (I was not aware about any policies nor re-entry permit than time)

    And now, I overstayed more or less 5 years and I’ve been searching about things what I need to go back..

    I found some information here: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_1333.html

    According to the site I need to submit:

    *Form DS-117
    *Permanent Resident Card
    *Re-entry permit (I don’t have)

    Supporting Documents:

    *Dates of travel outside of the U.S. (Examples: airline tickets, passport stamps, etc.)
    = I can show passport stamps and I think I still have tickets(not sure)

    *Proof of your ties to the U.S. and your intention to return (Examples: tax returns, and evidence of economic, family, and social ties to the U.S.)
    = My dad(citizen) lives in the US for years

    *Proof that your protracted stay outside of the U.S. was for reasons beyond your control (Examples: medical incapacitation, employment with a U.S. company, etc.)
    = I think medical incapacitation is the thing I need because I had TB that time but don’t know where to get it because I’m here in Philippines and my medical record is in Guam(US).

    *I had medications in Guam(US) for 3 months and went back to Philippines and they provided me some medicines to continue taking them in the Philippines. I still have the bottles of my medications, will it be a good sub-evidence?

    So what should I do to complete my requirements and what else should I do to go back in the US? Thanks in advance!

      1. Actually, I got better in less than a year. I planned to go back but I was scared I would be unable to do so.

        1. Sounds like an SB-1 returning resident visa would be difficult or impossible at this point. You may want to schedule a consultation with our firm or another qualified immigration lawyer to confirm and consider all your options.

      2. thanks for replying early…

        that’s what I thought.. I was thinking that It might stop me from entering other country because I had TB so I stayed in the Philippines till I get better.. after I got better like less than a year I planned to go back but I was scared of being deported because of the 6-month rule.. I don’t have knowledge about these policies so I was hesitated to go back till the waiting got long and longer..

        After being diagnosed in Guam, I went back to Philippines but I didn’t see a doctor right away because I was taking medicines given when I was in Guam(They gave me bottles of medicines like good for 3-4 months to finish my 6-month medication period). I still have those medicine bottles just in case to add to my evidences. Then I knew that the disease were gone because there was a medical check-up in the company I worked and said that I was good.( I didn’t mentioned that I had TB history)

        My dad said that I need to get a medical certificate telling that I overstayed due to my disease but I don’t know exactly where to get one because my record was in Guam(US).

        Now, I wanted to go back and been searching about things that I need to show and the only thing that can support my case is having a “medical incapacitation”

        So I was thinking that the “medical incapacitation” will help me to go back but I just don’t know where to get one..

        Thanks in advance. Really appreciate it..

  115. Hi Gary,

    First of all, thanks you very much that you have a website like this that help our concerns.

    My mother left United States last September, 2011 and she is still in the Philippines until now. Her Green Card will expire on July 19, 2014.
    She over stayed outside USA due to health condition for over two years now.
    Now she is planning to come back here in United States. What options I am going to do?

    Please reply as soon as possible and I appreciate your help.

    Sincerely,

    Henry Abarintos

    1. Depending on the specific facts, she’ll need to decide among (a) applying for an SB1 returning resident visa, if her stay abroad was beyond her control; (b) applying for a waiver of the entry document requirement at a CBP port of entry based on good cause for staying abroad for over a year; and (c) re-immigrating. She may benefit from a consultation with our firm or another immigration lawyer to help her choose.

  116. Hi Gary,

    MY wife and son are US citizens. I’ve been a green card holder since November 2011. I left the month after I got my green card due to an emergency in Jordan, as my mother had a serious heart condition and needed my care. I am planning to visit the US again by April 2014, along with my wife and son, which means I will have stayed abroad for 28 months. I have no reentry-permit. Pls advise.

    Thanks In advance
    Ahmed

    1. Your Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, is invalid as an entry document since you’ve been abroad for 1 year straight. You may have abandoned permanent resident status or may have retained it, depending on your intent, ties to the U.S. and abroad, and whether your mother’s condition and your role as a caregiver is “temporary” (as I’ve mentioned in the comments above). Best course of action is probably to get advice from our firm or another qualified immigration lawyer about whether to (a) apply for an SB-1 returning resident visa on the theory that your stay abroad has been temporary and beyond your control, (b) to apply to CBP for readmission as an LPR and a waiver of the entry document requirement based on the theory that your stay abroad has been temporary and you have “good cause” for not returning within a year, or (c) re-immigrating based on a petition by your U.S. citizen spouse.

  117. Gary,

    Thanks. Do I apply for the SB-1 visa here in the USA, or does my mom apply for it at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines?

    Thanks again,
    Henry

  118. Hi Gary,

    Your blog has been very insightful. Thank you!

    I am a GC holder and my son also has a GC under the NA3 category. I am thinking of getting a re-entry permit for myself. My son will be traveling out with me. Does he also need a re-entry permit even though he is under NA3? it would be another $360 for him so just wondering if its necessary.

    Thanks in advance!

      1. Hi Gary,
        thanks for your reply.
        he recently turned 2 years old.
        I have not yet decided on my trip out yet or how long it will be. it will be less than a year but i thought of getting the re-entry permit just in case so as to make it easier to show my trip abroad was temporary.

  119. Very informative Gary!

    My green card expired in 2011. I am a Canadian citizen. I lived in California from 1999-2007. I have been working in Shanghai since. I have not been back to the States once since coming to Shanghai.

    I guess my only ties to the States are I have family living in Seattle, I have an expired California driver’s license, and a bunch of friends in California.

    Do I still qualify for renewal?

  120. Hi Gary,
    I’m a British citizen with a British passport. My Father is a US citizen and I have just received my US immigrant visa (it took 7yrs). I have the temporary 6 month LPR visa in my passport and I’m coming from the UK to the US in December to present my documents to the border. I understand that this will then lead to my proper Green Card being processed and sent to my US address (my Father’s home).

    I have 2 issues:

    1) I’m returning to the UK after a few weeks as I have things to sort back in the UK before I relocate permanently to the US. If my Father mails me the Green Card when it arrives, will I be able to get back into the US with it from the UK? Also, will I be allowed to leave the US on my temporary visa?

    2) I’ve waited 7 years to get my Visa. I’m a partner in a UK company which I partly own. We’re going to sell the company in the UK and move out to the US permanently, but its going to take about a year to sell the company. I also have about 1.5 years left on my Exec MBA in the UK. How do I delay my transition to the US without being seen to abandon the LPR status? Do I apply for a re-entry permit? Is there any other advice?

    Thanks so much in advance.
    Steve

    1. Steve,

      If CBP admits you as a permanent resident, then your visa with the admission stamp serve as evidence of your permanent resident status for a year. You can make temporary trips abroad and re-enter during that year without the green card. Or, if your green card is mailed to you, you can re-enter with that.

      As to the other issues, I’ve responded to other inquiries above about whether to get a reentry permit and how to prove that a stay abroad after being granted LPR status is for temporary study and/or liquidating assets before relocating to the U.S.

  121. I got my GC Jan 2012 through husband’s employment. I visited India Nov 2012 when pregnant and my case got complicated so had to be hospitalized and bedridden until I delivered this year. Now, I’m still in India with my baby as she needs constant physiotherapy etc. In this situation and considering the approaching winter, all doctors here advise I stay until Feb/March. If I were to do that, my stay outside the U.S. would be more than 16 months. Pls note my husband is still working in the U.S. full time.

    1. How do I avoid losing my green card due to such a long stay outside the U.S.?
    2. Is it true that my child is eligible to get her GC anytime as long as she returns there before she turns 2 yrs old?

    Thank you for your time and help.

    1. No immigrant visa is required in the case of a child born during the temporary visit abroad of a mother who is a lawful permanent resident, so long as the child’s application for admission to the U.S. is made within 2 years of birth and the child accompanies a permanent resident parent on their first return to the U.S. after the child’s birth. 8 C.F.R. § 211.1(b).

      In your case, then, the key issue is whether your stay abroad is really “temporary” within the definition discussed above. You mention that you were “visiting” India when you had to be hospitalized. You’ll need to prove the original purpose of the trip–a round-trip ticket showing an early planned return to the U.S. would be helpful, among other things (e.g., if you were in India to attend a wedding, maybe you have a wedding invitation; if you had planned to be gone from a U.S. job for just a short period, maybe you have your vacation request form). Then you’ll need medical records and a clear summary from a doctor showing the unexpected medical problems and why travel was not recommended for the relevant period. And you’ll need evidence of your ties to the U.S.

      If you really can’t return to the U.S. within 12 months of your departure, your green card will no longer be valid as an entry document, so you’ll need to choose between (a) applying for an SB-1 returning resident visa, and (b) applying at the port of entry for a waiver of the entry document. I’d recommend seeking the advice of our firm or another qualified immigration lawyer to work through these issues.

  122. I had a green card. My grandmother sponsored me and my mum when I was 16. But I left the U.S. 12 years ago to get out of an abusive relationship. I can only assume that I have abandoned my residency. My son (17) was born in the States and would like to return to continue his education. Do I have to apply for another green card, and who can sponsor me now that my grandmother is retired out of the States.

  123. Hi. My family (mom, dad, me and my brother) from India received immigrant visas in 2013 and visited US on June 13,2013. I had to come back within 3 weeks since I have to complete my last year of engineering, ending June 2014. I am planning to visit US for a month again by December 28, and it would be just a day less than 6 months from my last visit. I have taken the GRE and TOEFL exams since I intend to do a master’s in the US. My dad has a job in the US and has been staying there since June. My mom has applied for a reentry permit due to her ill health and frequent check ups done in India. My brother has been in the US for the last 7 years and is pursuing his PhD over there. Would I require a re-entry permit since I again have to go back for 5.5 months? As well as if i have 2 close trips abroad for around 5.5 months would that create a problem on the port of entry because my main aim is just to get done with my last year of engineering?

    1. Yash: You don’t need a reentry permit (RP) as an entry document if you won’t be out one year straight. And you based on the facts stated you don’t fall within the groups of people we routinely recommend get RPs as helpful evidence their trip abroad is temporary. So our typical advice would be that when you enter the U.S., prove that you’re abroad for study (e.g., transcripts, school ID, later diploma) and that upon graduation you intend to live in the U.S. (GRE and TOEFL scores, applications to grad schools only in the U.S., later acceptance letter). Of course, that’s just typical advice, not legal advice for you, because I may not know all relevant facts in your case.

  124. My actual green card is with my dad in the US. I left within 3 weeks of my first entry, so I could not collect it. I have my immigrant visa which is valid until June 2014. When I land in the US, will I need my green card with me at the port of entry?

    1. When the officer decided to admit you to the U.S. as a new immigrant, your visa was endorsed with a CBP admission stamp. As is written on the immigrant visa, “Upon endorsement serves as temporary I-551 [i.e., green card] evidencing permanent residence for one year.” So you can use the endorsed visa as evidence of work authorization or to reenter the U.S. during that year. It’s not a problem that you’re not carrying the green card.

  125. Hi Sir,
    I am a DV 2013 winner. I got my immigrant visa on 30th September 2013 (valid till march 2014). I am yet to travel to the USA. I am really excited to start my life in the States.

    I am going to complete 10 years of my employment in Kuwait in July 2014. As per the labor law, I am eligible to resign and get full employment indemnity. So I am planning to fly to the USA in mid-Feb. 2014 then return to Kuwait to submit my resignation and complete the three months of grace period (again as per the labor law) by mid-April. I would complete all formalities and would be able to travel back to the USA by lat August 2014. What would you advise about my planned 6-month absence from the U.S.?

    1. Salman: When you go to the U.S. the first time, plan to begin creating ties there that are appropriate for you, whether it’s opening a bank account, getting a driver’s license, buying a house, putting your kids in school, looking for a job, buying a U.S. cell phone plan, and/or getting a U.S. cell phone plan, etc.

      Then, when you leave the U.S., make clear that it’s temporary. For example, leave the U.S. with a round trip ticket for your return.

      And while you are abroad, collect evidence of terminating ties in Kuwait, as appropriate for you. For example, keep the evidence that you’ve sold your house, resigned from your job, taken your kids out of school, and/or closed your bank account, etc.

      That way, when you fly back to the U.S. after a 6-month absence you’ll be able to show your ties to the U.S. and the temporary purpose of your stay in Kuwait to make preparations for your relocation to the U.S.

  126. Hi Gary,
    I’ve been a US resident since April 11, 2012 (2 years and 6 months). I went to the Philippines for summer vacation this June – August 2013 (my first vacation). I am flying back tomorrow to the Philippines, again, so I can study Occupational Therapy there. I bought a round-trip ticket; and will be back on March 30, 2014 (in a bit over 5 months). Am I in danger losing losing my green card? I’m planning to apply for reentry permit when I get back, or possibly US citizenship, if I can. I would like to know any advises that you can give me. I’m scared to lose my green card since my family lives in America. Thank you.

  127. Gary,

    I am active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. My mother has been a permanent resident since 1989 but she hasn’t renewed her card because it doesn’t have an expiration date on it. Her wallet with her green card was stolen in New York. And she has entered the U.S. under the visa waiver program as a citizen of Spain. I would like to know if she can re-apply for her green card or if I have to sponsor her. Thank you for your assistance

    1. You haven’t specified the dates of your mother’s absence from the U.S., the purpose of any absence, or what ties she retained in the U.S. during the absence. So I can’t comment on whether she’s abandoned her LPR status by a non-temporary stay abroad. However, entering on the visa waiver program, which is for “visitors” coming for up to 90 days, is one sign that she may have abandoned.

      If she hasn’t abandoned, she can file a Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, in order to get a new card.

      In contrast, if she has abandoned, assuming you’re a U.S. citizen, you can petition for her to re-immigrate.

  128. Hi Gary – I just wanted to say thanks for your feedback the other day – very helpful indeed.
    Best wishes,
    Steve

  129. Hi Gary,

    Really helpful forum. Here is my situation if you could help me sort it out.

    I’m a PR since 2008 (granted through the EB-1B category). In 2011, I left the US for a job overseas. At that time, I didn’t apply for a re-entry permit thinking that my frequent trips to the US will be enough to maintain my LPR status. On three occasions (once a year ago and two in two consecutive entries to the US last month), I was questioned by a CPB officer who asked about the re-entry permit and why I didn’t apply for it before leaving (in addition to being nasty!). In the first occasion, I didn’t have time to apply as my stay in the US was for less than a week. In the last two entries, I was just transiting through the US going to Canada. The last CPB officer mentioned that I will not be able to enter the US next time if I don’t show a re-entry permit (or visa, I don’t remember what he said.) He also put the “ACR” mention when he stamped my passport.

    I still have my job in the US (unpaid leave till 08/14 which I should be able to renew), I still pay my taxes, I’ve a bank account and retirement account. All my children who are all US citizens live with me (the oldest is 12). However, I’m still planing to stay at least three more years in my current overseas job.

    So what are my options now? Is it better for me to abandon my PR status and apply later for a PR or is there another option. Because of the nature of my job, I need to travel 4 to 5 times a year to the US and I fear I can only do it the next time around if I abandon my PR status and apply for a non-immigrant visa.
    Thank you for your assistance.

    1. Hi Mo: From the above article, you now know that merely “touching down” periodically in the U.S. is not enough to preserve LPR status. Your stay abroad must be “temporary” within the above definition.

      Sounds like its worth your while to consult with our law firm or another qualified immigration lawyer, who can learn all the facts of your case, assess the strength of the assertion that you haven’t abandoned LPR status, and decide on a strategy to move forward. If it’s possible, it’s worth avoiding the hassle of re-immigrating through the EB-1 category.

  130. Hi Gary,
    My wife, son and I are Green Card holders since 2009 and I have been a pastor here in the US. My wife was offered a teaching position at a Canadian University, on contract for 2 years, and joined them this July. Our son is also there doing his studies. At that time we were under the impression that if they re-entered the US every 6 months it would be okay. But a friend told me that we should have gotten a waiver and while searching the web I came across your site. I have also been offered a position for 5 months at the university and hoped to join them this December. What are the options we have given that my wife and son are already in Canada so that our status is not jeopardized?
    Thanking you,
    Philip

    1. Philip: What you need is a plan that you can rely on to preserve your LPR status. That plan may well include deepening and documenting your ties to the U.S., clarifying the evidence of the temporary nature of your stay abroad, and maybe applying for a reentry permit. I recommend that you consult with our firm or another qualified immigration lawyer with experience in these cases to draw up and guide you in implementation of the LPR status preservation plan.

  131. Dear Gary,

    Thank you for maintaining this highly informative website.

    I am an American citizen. My wife is a French citizen. We have a one year old son who is also an American citizen (born in the USA). My wife and I were married in April after her K-1 visa was approved. After the marriage, she applied for an adjustment of status, and recently received her green card.

    The issue is we are currently living in Europe (not in France) for professional reasons. I am an academic and took a 2 year leave of absence from the American university I used to work at in to work at a European university. Initially, and when my wife filed her adjustment of status application in April, my intent was to return to my previous job after my leave of absence expires. However, since then, I decided not to return to my previous position, and to find a job at another American university instead (again, for professional reasons). I am currently in the process of applying to such relevant open positions in the US, but I have no way of knowing when I will receive a suitable offer. That can be a matter of months to 2-3 years given the nature of the academic job market.

    We own a house in the US. We did not rent it for over a year, but then rented it “temporarily” to a couple visiting the US for a sabbatical for 10 months, which is an arrangement we will repeat next fall if we do not return to the US by then. Our belongings are stored in the house. I own two cars in the US, and they are registered and insured. I maintain a bank account, and several credit cards accounts, and so does my wife (she used to work in the US before we moved to Europe under H-1 status). We have spent about 3 months a year in the US in the past two years, and plan to do that until I find a job there and we move back permanently. My wife is currently taking care of our son and is not employed. Of course, we pay all necessary federal and state taxes in the US.

    I am wondering if this situation might put my wife’s LRP status in question? Apart from spending 2-3 months in our house in the US, we fly back to the area once in between to take care of small things and check on the house, etc., so she will never be gone for more than 6 months.

    Thank you.

    1. O:

      Whenever an LPR takes work abroad (or accompanies a spouse who takes work abroad), the government should scrutinize whether this stay abroad is “temporary” within the above definition. The government should look, for example, at the contract to see how the term of employment is described. The government should be willing to review any other evidence that you intended to stay abroad just temporarily (e.g., whether you kept your house, car, and financial accounts in the U.S.). The government should consider the totality of the facts. If the government feels that the LPR’s stay abroad isn’t temporary, a notice to appear before an immigration judge will be issued, and if the government proves to the judge by the preponderance of the evidence that the stay abroad wasn’t “temporary,” then the individual won’t be readmitted to the U.S. as an LPR.

      The facts of your case as you describe them are close enough that I’d be foolish to opine that you face a minimal risk or that you face a serious risk. I wouldn’t venture an opinion without first learning the totality of the facts.

      Similarly, I wouldn’t give you advice without understanding better your goals. For example, we have some clients who would prefer to abandon their LPR status to save tax dollars and then re-immigrate later when they’re ready to move back to the U.S. We have other clients who would reject that strategy because it’s unlikely they’ll be able to prove nonimmigrant intent for purposes of traveling to the U.S. on a B1/B2 visa as a visitor for business or pleasure. We have other clients who are eligible to and want to apply for naturalization immediately based on the U.S. citizen spouse’s employment for a U.S. corporation or other designated entity abroad.

      In sum, an immigration lawyer’s job in a case like yours is to investigate the facts and the clients’ goals, then to analyze the level of risk given the clients’ current course of action. We can then consider all the legal options available to determine the course of action.

      It may well be that you can take some minimal steps to strengthen your claim that the stay abroad is “temporary.” Off the top of my head, that may include, for example, finding old correspondence from you and your wife to others from the time you left the U.S. initially explaining that your stay outside the U.S. would be temporary. And perhaps I’d advise you to keep clear records that you’re searching for jobs exclusively in the U.S.

      But I can’t provide advice you can rely on without knowing more about the totality of the facts and your goals.

  132. Hi,

    I am a permanent resident. I have been outside the USA for almost three years. I had no intent to leave, but I had to, because I was being followed by a criminal organization, they tried to kill me several times in different places, even in my own home. While I was in the USA, they had been followimg me for a couple of years. I know many members of that organization, and I believe they are behind most of those crimes in the city and state where I was living (Waterbury, Connecticut), including the 2004 murder of a 16-year-old girl named Jessica. I was not able to return to usa earlier because i was waiting for safe conditions to do that. Now, I would like to return and colaborate with the police department in dismantling that organization. I would like to know what could happen if I tell an immigration officer or an immigration judge those reasons.

    Regards,
    Sandra

    1. Sondra,

      Since you’ve been abroad for over 1 year, your permanent resident card is no longer valid for entry to the U.S. You’ll need to apply for an SB-1 returning resident visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, or you’ll need to get to a U.S. port of entry to apply to CBP for a waiver of the entry document requirement. These options are briefly discussed abroad. For the SB-1 visa, a key question which the consular officer would likely explore is how you meet the requirement that your prolonged stay abroad was “beyond your control”. For example, did you contact U.S. law enforcement earlier to ask for their protection? If not, what evidence do you have that you really couldn’t return to the U.S. At a port of entry, CBP would be likely to focus on similar issues–as would a judge if CBP refers you to Immigration Court. The best evidence may be a declaration from a law enforcement agency that you were in danger in the U.S. I don’t know the facts, but proving your eligibility for readmission to the U.S. as an LPR may not be simple. Consider hiring an immigration attorney.

  133. Hello,

    I have been a LPR for over 12 years — I grew up in the US since the age of 6, and got a green card at the age of 15 in 2001. I have parents, extended family, home, student loans, credit cards, car, driver’s license, and US citizen boyfriend/fiance in the US.

    I worked abroad from October 2012 to May 2013 (8 months) at an American university’s branch campus in the Qatar in the Middle East. I had no trouble, and no questions about my green card, coming back.

    I’ve been abroad again January 2014 to now (April 2014) for leisure travel. I had planned to go back to the US after a few months of fun, but now have a job opportunity for an American corporation in Shanghai for 1 year maximum.

    I will be back in the US in June for a couple weeks to attend my sister’s wedding and visit my boyfriend. Then I would like to return to China for the Shanghai job. During this job, it will not be a problem for me to visit the US for a short stay or two, but not for more than a week or so.

    Can I take this job whle protecting my permanent resident status and avoiding abandonment?

    1. Wendy:

      Based on your brief description, it sounds like your intended stay abroad wouldn’t be a problem for maintaining your LPR status, but of course an attorney needs to review the full facts to provide legal advice.

      A good rule of thumb might be that if a person is going to work abroad (especially for a second time) it’s worth doing a planning session with an immigration attorney to review all the facts, calibrate the risk of abandonment, and create a plan. In some cases that may involve filing for a reentry permit or filing an N-470. The planning should involve creating a set of documents to show at the port of entry (and perhaps in the future at a naturalization interview) to prove the stay abroad is temporary. In your case, for example, the attorney could confirm that the overseas company meets the government’s peculiar definition of “American” and could provide ideas for structuring the employment relationship (contract term, how salary is paid, etc.) At the same time, you can plan with the lawyer how to answer government questions at the port of entry (and perhaps in a future naturalizaiton interview) in a way that is truthful and in your best interests.

  134. Pingback: Anonymous
  135. I am a green card holder (as are my husband and 9-year-old son). I am pregnant. It is my second trimester. I’m not feeling well, so we’ve decided to stay in the Philippines to give birth. What documents will we need to reenter the U.S. with the baby? God bless.

    1. Jo,

      To prove you haven’t abandoned LPR status, you can show your ties to the U.S. plus the temporary purpose of your stay abroad, which would include, for example, the baby’s birth certificate and evidence of your health issues during the pregnancy. The child born abroad may be eligible to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident (waiving the normal immigrant visa requirement) under terms of 8 CFR 211.1(b)(1).

  136. Dear Mr Chodorow,
    thank you for your insightul website.
    I am green card holder for 11 years now and have been living in the US ever since. A few years back I have taken an academic job at a university in Europe. The job requires me to be in Europe app. four months out of the year, divided into five trips a year. In addition I also do exhibitions in Europe, Canada, South America (I’m an artist by profession) which sometimes adds another few weeks to my stays abroad. So far, in every calender year, I have slept in the US for at least seven months.
    Recently I was pressed by a CBP officer about “not really living and working” in the US. The officer let me in eventually, but, of course, I’m wondering about the future. My academic job doesn’t have a termination date; it is really well paid; I get a year’s salary for only work four months of work. So I would want to keep it but also not run the risk of loosing LPR status.
    My main job is as an artist which I do as “my own business” and which I do in the eight months when I am not working at the Europen university. I file taxes in the US (also tax my foreign income there); I co-own an apartment and a summer home with my long term partner (who’s a US citizen); have a US driver’s licence, bank accounts, credit cards, investment portfolios etc in the US. I do not own property in another country. As an artist I also work with a primary gallery representation in the US. The gallery sells my artwork in the US.
    As I have another trip planned to Europe I wonder if I should prepare something, or have something to worry about?
    Any advice is much appreciated.
    Thank in advance.
    Best, Martin

    1. Martin,

      Sounds like you’re already pursuing a conservative strategy by:

      (1) Not staying out of the U.S. for 180 days straight, thereby avoiding an invitaiton to the the CBP officer to scrutinize whether you’ve abandoned LPR status.

      (2) Ensuring that each year you are in the U.S. more than any single other country. For example, if you are in the U.S. 6 months a year, in France 4 months a year, and in Singapore 2 months a year, it is clear that your main home is in the U.S. (Your time in the U.S. doesn’t have to be continuous). This is the basic rule. It comes from the Immigration and Nationality Act’s definition of “residence,” which means one’s “place of general abode” or, in other words, one’s “principal, actual dwelling place in fact.” If you like, you can even carry with you at the port of entry a chronological list of which dates you’ve been in which country since gaining LPR status.

      If you’re following these two rules and intend to continue to do so, then CBP shouldn’t give you any problems.

      1. Thank you so much for responding so quickly. That is truly helpful and so appreciated!
        Martin

  137. Dear Mr. Chodorow
    My mom entered the USA on March 28, 2014, as a permanent resident. She wants to go back to my native country (Myanmar) next month.
    My questions are:
    1. Can she leave US while she’ve only lived in the US for 2 months?
    2. If she can leave, can she apply for a reentry permit and stay aboard for a year?
    3. Does the reentry permit application need to be filed before she leaves?

    Best regards
    Mei

    1. 1. Can she leave US while she’ve only lived in the US for 2 months? The immigration law doesn’t prohibit departure from the U.S.

      2. If she can leave, can she apply for renter permit and stay abroad for a year? As to whether she’ll qualify for a reentry permit, see this Guide.

      3. Should she apply for the reentry permit before leaving the U.S.? Yes. See the Guide.

      1. Hi Mr. Chodorow,

        Thank you for your quick response. Your comments are really helpful. I found lots of useful information from the Guide you provided. Thank you very much.

        Mei

  138. Pingback: Quora
  139. Dear Mr. Chodorow,

    We (my wife, 5-year-old son, and I) are winners of the DV 2016 lottery. We entered the U.S. for the first time in December 2015 then returned to Poland after a week (during which we opened a bank account and got a mobile phone plan). My wife currently is at the end of her second year of a 4-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing in Poland. She prefers to finish the program in Poland because of difficulties transferring her credits to a U.S. school. In that case, she’ll need to get a credentials evaluation process and prepare for the US licensing exam.

    Can we apply for reentry permits? Are we at risk of abandoning our permanent resident status?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Leszek: Many people who are granted immigrant visas and enter the U.S for the first time are not ready to move to the U.S. This is especially true for visa lottery winners. For example, they may need to liquidate a foreign business or sell a foreign house first. Similarly, the need to finish an educational program abroad before moving to the U.S. isn’t uncommon. That can be a valid justification for a prolonged but still “temporary” absence from the U.S., and where accompanied by appropriate ties to the U.S., it may well be possible to avoid abandonment and qualify for a reentry permit. I recommend you schedule a consultation with our law firm or another competent immigration attorney to lay out a plan to preserve your family’s permanent resident status while abroad.

  140. My mother, age 88, is a lawful permanent resident (LPR). I accompanied her back to China for a family gathering for spring festival on February 2, 2016. Unfortunately, she fell down, broke her shoulder and left arm and lost consciousness shortly after the holiday. She was rushed to the hospital, where she is continuing to receive treatment. According to the doctors, she may not able to travel for more than a year, due to her age. I know she can’t apply for a reentry permit outside the U.S. How can she preserve her LPR status?

    1. Harry,

      I’m going to assume a couple facts: that you are a U.S. citizen and that your mother’s green card will not expire for at least a couple years. Let me know if I’m wrong.

      If an LPR remains abroad for over a year, her green card (Form I-551) is invalid as an entry document. Many people apply for reentry permits prior to departing the U.S., but that’s clearly not an option for your mother. To enter the U.S. without a valid entry document, an LPR who has been out for over a year often will either apply for an SB-1 visa or ask the U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the port of entry for a waiver of the entry document requirement. In either case, the individual must prove she hasn’t abandoned LPR status. This involves proving why the individual has been abroad for so long (e.g., medical records) and proving continued ties to the U.S.

      Another option would be for you to file a new Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on her behalf. You can begin the process for her to re-immigrate.

      You may wish to discuss these and other options with our law firm or another competent immigration lawyer.

      Wish your mother a speedy recuperation,

      Gary

Comments are closed.