Two prominent immigration myths imply that permanent resident (“green card”) status may be preserved if a permanent resident living abroad comes to the United States once a year, and that an absence from the U.S. for more than a year results in the loss of green card status. The reality is not that clear-cut.
Permanent resident status may be “lost” if it is deemed abandoned. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) examines a number of factors to determine maintenance of green card status, such as time spent in the U.S. versus time spent abroad and the green card holder’s ties to the U.S. Accordingly, a green card holder who spends a substantial amount of time abroad must take extreme care to maintain as many ties to the U.S. as possible, or else risk being denied admission to the U.S. or placed in removal proceedings based upon an allegation of abandonment of green card status. In many cases, green card holders also should apply for a Reentry Permit to further evidence intent to resume permanent resident status after extended periods abroad.