Extended Travel by Permanent Residents

Permanent residents need to preserve their lawful status in the U.S. Though they can live permanently in the U.S., they need to do few things to retain their lawful status. Green card renewal is an important process that every permanent resident needs to go through, every ten years. They need to make the U.S. their permanent home and must not abandon the status the country has granted them.

Legal residents can travel abroad with their green cards, but lengthy trips will put them into trouble. Permanent residents can make short abroad trips. This is a privilege granted to the legal residents. But they will be found to have abandoned their legal status, if they travel abroad frequently and do not intend to make America their permanent home.

Immigration officers are likely to consider that the nature of their trips abroad are temporary if they make brief trips. They will take into consideration certain factors like their family ties in the U.S., tax returns they have filed and their employment in the country and grant them entry into the U.S. upon their return. Such legal residents who travel abroad temporarily need to maintain their U.S. mailing address, U.S. bank accounts, etc., as these factors would help them to establish that they are do not intend to abandon the legal status the country has granted them.

Legal residents need to remember that their status will be revoked it they fail to maintain and preserve their status. Permanent residents are likely to lose their status if they make some other country their permanent home and abandon the U.S. Abandonment of legal status may also be found to occur in short frequent trips. In such cases, immigration officers may believe that legal residents who travel abroad frequently are looking to make another foreign country their permanent home. Employment abroad and frequent prolonged absence from America are few factors that will put permanent residents into trouble. Such residents are likely to lose their legal status.

However, residents who do not wish to lose their legal status may apply for re-entry permits if they want to stay in a foreign country for more than six months and less than two years. They can get those permits by filing the USCIS Form I-131, Application for travel Document. This form must be filed while they are in the U.S.; they cannot file this form while abroad. These permits are issued with a validity period of two years. These documents will help them to prove that their travel is only temporary and that they wish to settle in the U.S.

Those who remain abroad for two years and more cannot return to America with their re-entry permits as these documents are valid only for two years. Such residents need to obtain returning resident visas from overseas U.S. embassies or consulates to travel to the U.S.

However, even the residents who hold these documents may get into trouble. In case the immigration officers doubt that they aim at making a foreign country their permanent home, they may not be granted entry into America. Evidence of employment and property, driver’s licenses and family ties in the U.S. are things that would help them to establish that their aim is not to abandon the U.S.

Permanent residents need to obtain Social Security Numbers, keep their green cards updated, file tax returns, maintain their address in America and should avoid frequent travel abroad, to retain permanent resident status.