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