San Francisco, CA asked in Immigration Law for California

Q: Can my parents stay outside US post obtaining GC for 9 months (>6 months but less than a year)?

Hi, I applied GC for my parents after they arrived in US last February and their GC's have been approved. I am planning to ask them to stay until end of June this year (to fulfill their 6 months annual stay) and then come back next May. Based on my reading in USCIS website, GC holders will have no problems and will not need any additional documentation as long as they return to the US within one year. Looking for confirmation and anything else i need to consider.

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2 Lawyer Answers
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: According to U.S. immigration law, lawful permanent residents (LPRs or green card holders) are generally required to maintain their residence in the United States. However, they are allowed to travel outside the United States for up to 6 months at a time without losing their status.

If your parents plan to stay outside the United States for more than 6 months but less than a year, they may need to provide evidence of their intent to maintain their U.S. residence and their ties to the United States. This can include proof of property ownership, bank accounts, employment, or family ties in the United States.

It's also important to note that if your parents stay outside the United States for more than one year, they may be considered to have abandoned their U.S. residence and may have difficulty re-entering the country. If they plan to stay outside the United States for an extended period of time, they should consult with an immigration attorney to understand their options and any potential implications for their status as green card holders.

In general, as long as your parents are able to demonstrate their intent to maintain their U.S. residence and their ties to the United States, they should be able to travel outside the United States for up to a year without issue. However, it's always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are met and to address any concerns or questions you may have.

Carl Shusterman
Carl Shusterman
  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Permanent residents are permitted to travel abroad. However, if their trip abroad exceeds 6 months, they will be questioned about their prolonged absence when returning to the US. Unless they can convince the CBP officer at the airport or the border that they always intended to return to the US, their green cards may be in danger.

If you were outside the US for one year or more, the government can take away your green card. There is a conclusive presumption that you abandoned your permanent residence in the U.S.

For any trip outside the US for more than 6 months, we strongly suggest that you apply for a Re-Entry Permit before leaving the US. A Re-Entry Permit is an immigration travel document which is valid for up to 2 years and creates a rebuttable presumption that you did not abandon your permanent residence in the US. You must be physically present in the US when you file the I-131 application and complete the biometrics requirement.

Although a Re-Entry Permit preserves your residency for green card purposes, it does not do so for naturalization purposes. For this, you need to file a form N-470 if you are eligible.

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