Acquiring a United States Green Card is a long, slow process. After much anticipation and paperwork, green card holders get the Permanent Resident status that allows them many benefits like the right to live and work in the U.S.; to travel and return; and to petition for certain close family members to also receive green cards. However, a lot of permanent residents are elderly folk or parents who are sponsored by their green card-holding children. Often they have to travel back to their home country to settle matters and oversee property and get their businesses in order. Although the green card allows them the flexibility of movement, there are restrictions in terms of longevity of departure from the US and stay outside of the country. There are certain rules that apply to them before opting for a temporary move abroad. Failure to follow the regulations could result in Abandonment of Residency thus, resulting in a permanent revocation of the Green Card.
- Temporary visit – Plan for a temporary stay. Any stay outside the country that goes beyond six months can be scrutinized at length by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Ensure US employment – Any stay that requires employment outside of the US without a permanent job in the US is not considered temporary.
- Acquire advance permission – The USCIS can be petitioned for a re-entry permit. This reflects the temporary nature of the visit abroad and clarifies date of return.
- Apply from within the US – Ensure physical presence within the US before applying for re-entry permit and consequent, travel date. The Applicant may be subjected to a biometric process that has to be accomplished before leaving the country.
- Reissue of entry permit – the re-entry permit can be reissued twice that spans six years of absence from the US. However, a previous approval doesn’t guarantee a re-issue of subsequent applications. Also, to be noted is that each subsequent application will invite additional scrutiny from the authorities regarding the resident’s intent to continue stay within the US.
- Surrender all prior re-entry permits – A re-entry permit is issued only after one has surrender all previous permits. A valid permit will not be issued if a current one exists.
- Have a clean record – Commission of certain acts like crime, misrepresentation of immigration status, and receipt of unqualified public benefits can result in removal from the US and a cancellation of the permanent residency status.
To qualify for a re-entry permit, the following factors will be determined –
- Purpose for departing from the United States;
- Ties to a lawful permanent residence in the United States;
- Location of family, property holdings, and employment;
- Intention to return to the United States as a place of employment, business, or as an actual home;
- Whether the visit abroad is short.