What is Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) status?
Obtaining lawful permanent resident status is colloquially referred to as getting a “green card.” LPRs are non-citizens of the U.S. who may live and work in the U.S. permanently. Upon obtaining LPR status, individuals may accept an employment offer without restriction, own property, receive financial aid at public universities, and join the U.S. military. They may or may not decide to “naturalize,” or complete the process to become a U.S. citizen, but U.S. law assumes that LPRs intend to live permanently in the U.S.
How does travel indicate an abandonment of LPR status?
Because U.S. immigration law assumes that LPRs intend to live permanently in the U.S., multiple and/or prolonged absences from the U.S. may jeopardize a foreign national’s LPR status, and could disqualify them for naturalization. There is no fixed period of time that will trigger abandonment, but LPRs are thought to be seeking readmission if they have been absent from the U.S. for longer than 180 days. An LPR returning from a trip longer than 180 days may be questioned as to potential abandonment of their status. More significantly, absences of over a year create a legal presumption that the LPR has abandoned their status.
What travel factors are considered when the U.S. determines abandonment of LPR status?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) reviews various factors when assessing whether an immigrant objectively intended to abandon their LPR status. These factors include (1) length of the absence; (2) purpose of the travel; (3) intent to return; and (4) continued ties to the U.S while abroad. These ties can include length of valid status in the U.S., U.S. residence of immediate family members, continued employment in the U.S., property ownership, payment of U.S. taxes, etc.
How can individuals with LPR status avoid issues when returning to the U.S. from a lengthy trip abroad?
To avoid issues related to lengthy trips abroad, LPRs may apply for a USCIS reentry permit. Individuals holding reentry permits may remain outside of the U.S. for up to 24 months without USCIS considering the LPR status abandoned. This permit may be obtained by filing Form I-131 with the USCIS before leaving, including the filing and biometrics fees. When the reentry permit expires, LPRs can apply for a second reentry permit.
Immigrants who decide to voluntarily abandon their LPR status should file Form I-407 with USCIS. This form is designed to provide a simple procedure to record an individual’s abandonment of status.
Please don’t hesitate to contact Zulkie Partners if you have questions related to your permanent resident status or if you need to apply for a reentry permit.