How long can you stay outside of the United States as a Green Card Holder
By Keshab Raj Seadie, Esq special to N24:
It is very critical for any Permanent Resident to understand that a Green Card is a privilege and such privilege may be taken away from you if you do not follow the rules and regulations provided under the U.S. Immigration Law.
If by any chance, does a Permanent Resident abandon the intention of continuing to reside in the United States, then he or she will lose the right to holding a Green Card. This is a serious matter and all Permanent Residents there are a few precautions one should take in order to keep the Green Card protected. When a Permanent Resident leaves the country even for a short trip, he is considered to have abandoned the intention of living in the U.S. When a permanent resident departs outside of the U.S. for more than 365 consecutive days, the INS can revoke his green card status and he or she would need to repeat the entire petition and immigration visa process in order to re-enter the U.S. as a permanent resident. However, this is not the case for all permanent residents. A permanent resident, who obtained their re-entry permit before departing the U.S., is permitted to stay overseas for up to two (2) years.
When a Green Card has expired or is about to expire, the Permanent Resident will need to submit a Form I-90 to USCIS to renew their Green Card. If a Permanent Resident is outside of United States while the green card expires within six (6) months but the individual intends to return back to the U.S. within one year or departure and before the card expires, then the Permanent Resident must file the Form I-90 upon returning to U.S. In case the Green Card expires prior to returning to the U.S., the resident must contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office right away.
According to U.S. Immigration Law, any individual who enters the United States as an immigrant is assumed to live in the United States permanently. If a Permanent Resident stays outside of the U.S. for more than 365 days but less than two years, the individual will need a re-entry permit for readmission. The reentry permit will then be sent out to the Consulate where the individual will need to pick up the permit in person. If an individual stay out of the U.S. for more than 12 months, they may risk losing their legal permanent resident status. Only individuals holding re-entry permits are permitted to stay out of the U.S. for up to twenty-four (24) months. Additionally, Permanent Residents must file income tax return even if they are outside of the U.S. If they have not filed any income tax returns, they must be dependents on someone else’s tax returns and “non-immigrants.”
However, it is not the end of the world if a Permanent Resident loses his or her residence. There are two ways to re-obtain the Permanent Residence: (a) A U.S. citizen, who is an immediate relative of the immigrant, may file a new immigrant visa petition. A U.S. employer may also sponsor the immigrant to obtain permanent residence. (b) An immigrant can also apply for returning residence status. It is very important to understand that when filing returning resident status, an individual is required to prove that he or she is continuing residence and has unbroken ties with the United States. The immigrant must prove the intent of return to the United States.
In order to apply for a returning resident status, an immigrant must file a Form DS-117, Application for Determining Returning Resident Status and must appear for an interview at the Consulate. During the interview, the immigrant will be required to prove that he or she is continuing all ties in the United States such as following U.S. tax laws and maintaining all licenses and memberships in the U.S. Approximately two weeks after the interview, the application will be adjudicated by an adjudicating officer at the Consulate. The immigrant will then receive a notice as to whether the application is granted or denied.
Any Lawful residents considering whether to submit an application for return resident status, must over look the criteria provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Also, please be advised that an approval of returning resident status does not guarantee issuance of the visa.