US Immigration officials can revoke a green card if the holder abandons his or her intent to live long term in the United States. This issue has become especially relevant in recent years due to the US economic downturn. A growing number of green card holders are leaving the USA in pursuit of economic opportunities elsewhere, such as China. Despite leaving the US, the green card holders want to keep their hard-won greed cards if possible. This article provides tips for immigrants in this dilemma.
1. Time Requirement. Immigration authorities often question a green card holder’s intent to reside long term in the US if the holder stays outside the United States more than six months (180 days) consecutively or in a one-year period. Returning a few days before the six month mark can lead to similar difficulties, especially if the holder takes long trips outside the US multiple years in a row. For example, annual four-month trips abroad can lead to difficulties.
2. How to Travel With Reduced Concern. When spending significant time outside the United States, the safest approach is to request advance parole, also known as a re-entry permit. Doing so strongly signals intent to retain permanent residence in the USA.
Unfortunately advance parole may not be enough. If long-term stays outside the USA are necessarily, the green card holder should be prepared to present extra documentation to immigration boarder officials upon re-entry to the US. The documentation should evidence the holder’s long-term ties to the United States. Examples include:
A. The immigrant’s most recent year’s tax return.
B. Proof the holder maintained an address in the United States during his or her absence.
C. Records demonstrating the holder has a bank account in the US.
D. US driver’s license or ID card.
E. One or more US credit cards.
F. US social security card.
G. Unexpired green card.
H. Documents showing the green card holder is not entering the United States on the first leg of a roundtrip ticket. The documentation should instead suggest America is the holder’s final destination.
3. Important Mistakes to Avoid. Avoid the following when traveling abroad:
A. Do Not Apply for A Non-Immigrant Visa. If a green card holder departs the US for more than a year without advance parole or is denied re-entry, he or she absolutely should not attempt to re-enter the US on a non-immigrant visa. Instead apply for a special immigrant visa.
B. Spouse & Children. The green card holder should avoid bringing his or her spouse and children when traveling abroad for long periods.
C. Travel Tickets. Do not use the first leg of a round-trip ticket to re-enter the United States if the return destination of the ticket is outside the USA.
This list of tips is not exhaustive, but it should help most green card holders work abroad with more peace of mind.