Asked in Immigration Law for Texas

Q: I live in Europe, can I keep my green card?

I moved to Europe permanently wo years ago. My wife is American and we visit the USA roughly once a year. I still have a bank account as well as a 401k. Is there a way to keep my green card indefinitely?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Kyndra L Mulder
Kyndra L Mulder
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, FL

A: A green card means you are a permanent resident. Permanent Resident means just that;

Permanent Resident. If you are not a permanent resident: do not maintain your actual physical presence in the USA you loose the status. A bank account and 401K do not establish residency.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Kevin L Dixler
Kevin L Dixler
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL

A: No! It is possible that you can be charged with abandonment. A lawful permanent resident is supposed to spend a majority of the year within the U.S. Yet, it is the intention of the applicant that is challenged at the port of entry. As a result, a simple annual trip will not be enough to maintain lawful permanent resident status. Having a bank account is usually not enough, either. If you are employed abroad, then that is good sign to CBP that abandonment is taking place.

In an effort to discourage people who have made mistakes, CBP has sometimes been generous, in that it has warned those who are testing the limits 'not' to do so. Of course, if they persist, it is possible that the green card holder will be placed in deferred inspection. At that time more evidence will be demanded of them. If there is no proof of a residence, among other indicators, the CBP can refer a green card holder to immigration court due to abandonment.

If you are doing some sort of touch back with minimal ties, such as a bank account, you run the risk that you can be flagged for interrogation. You may need to make plans to solidify your status as soon as possible with the understanding that CBP has the right to ask questions and expect truthful answers.

As a result, I strongly recommend a teleconference with a competent and experienced immigration attorney before you place too much faith in your strategy. You should consider other options.

The above is general information, not legal advice, and does not create an attorney client relationship.

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