Immigration Lawyer Ari Sauer – The Immigration Answer Man

Memphis immigration lawyer Ari Sauer provides news and information on US immigration law.

As a green card holder, how long can I stay outside of the country before I abandon my green card?


QUESTION: Is there a specific amount of time that a green card holder can spend outside the US without abandoning their green card?


THE IMMIGRATION ANSWER MAN – ARI SAUER: US Permanent Residents (green card holders) are required to maintain the US as their primary permanent residence. When a Permanent Resident fails to maintain the US as their permanent residence the US government can determine that they have abandoned their US Permanent Residence.


Abandonment is really a factor of continuing to maintain one’s permanent residence within the US. The length of time spent outside the US is just one factor that they use to determine whether someone is maintaining the US as their permanent residence. Trips outside the US that are longer than 180 days can trigger CBP to question whether the person was continuing to maintain he US as their permanent residence. If the trip is for longer than a year, it can create a presumption that the person abandoned their US residence. If someone is planning on taking a trip that is longer than a year, they should apply for a reentry permit. But the reentry permit just allows them to return to the US after a trip of longer than a year, it does not get rid of the requirement to maintain the US as the permanent residence.


Some other examples of factors that the government will consider when determining whether someone has been maintaining their US permanent residence include:


  • The reason for the trip. Whether the trip was for a temporary purpose.
  • How much time the person has been spending outside the US compared to the amount of time they have been spending within the US.
  • Whether the person has been working abroad. Also whether the employment was in a permanent position or whether the employment was in a position that was temporary in nature.
  • Whether the person continued to have a permanent home in the US during their trip(s) abroad. For example, they continued to own their home or to pay rent for their home during their trip(s) abroad.
  • Whether the person has filed US tax returns each year as a US resident. Filing US tax returns as a non-resident (using 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ) or failing to file US tax returns because the person did not consider themselves a US resident, is a strong indicator that the person was not maintaining the US as their permanent residence.
  • Whether the person’s family members remained in the US during their trip(s) abroad.


In addition to the issue of not abandoning your US permanent residence, there is also the issue of eligibility to apply for naturalization. For naturalization, there is a requirement to have been physically present in the US for at least 50% of the time, during the past 5 years as a permanent (3 years for certain spouses of US citizens). There is also a requirement to maintain continuous US residence during the period, which is broken by a trip abroad of longer than a year (even if you have a reentry permit). Trips of longer than 180 days, but less than a year, create a presumption that there was a break in continuous US residence, which the person will need to overcome by presenting evidence that they continued to maintain their US residence during the trip abroad.


Published 9/28/18 by attorney Ari Sauer.

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Submit questions to Ari Sauer – The Immigration Answer Man by emailing your question to Questions submitted by email may be posted on this site, without personal information, unless the email specifically requests that we not use the question for this site. Due to the volume of questions received, not all questions submitted will be answered. Only general questions can be answered on this blog. For answers to specific questions about your situation, please schedule a consultation appointment with attorney Ari Sauer. Sending in a question by email or any other means does not create an attorney-client relationship. * This is an advertisement. Ari Sauer is an attorney with the Siskind Susser law firm. On this blog we answer questions as a service to our readers, but we cannot assume any liability related to reliance on anything herein, and responses to questions are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Immigration laws and regulations are constantly changing and the rules stated may not be current or apply to your particular situation. Readers are cautioned to schedule a consultation with an immigration lawyer rather than relying on anything stated in this blog. This blog is not intended to substitute for a consultation with a qualified immigration law attorney. Ari Sauer is licensed to practice law through the states of Tennessee, New York and New Jersey but is eligible to assist clients from throughout the US. Certification as an Immigration Specialist is not currently available in Tennessee, New York or New Jersey. Siskind Susser limits its practice strictly to immigration law, a Federal practice area, and we do not claim expertise in the laws of states other than where our attorneys are licensed. the opinions expressed here are those of Ari Sauer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Siskind Susser.


2 comments on “As a green card holder, how long can I stay outside of the country before I abandon my green card?

  1. Anonymous
    October 12, 2018

    Hi my daughter is already us citizen and she will be graduating next year, is there.s a chance for me to get approve of tourist visa since i was denied before. Becuase im planning to attend her graduation next year. Thanx

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