Technically, in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the U.S. may be considered, even if it is less than one year.

Lawful permanent residents may travel abroad and be re-admitted in permanent resident status after brief absences from the U.S. An alien registration card (often called green card) may be presented by an individual who is returning to an unrelinquished lawful permanent residence in the U.S. after a temporary absence outside the U.S. not exceeding one year. The resident should also be able to show that he or she has not abandoned the permanent U.S. residence.

The alien registration card will be treated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as expired if the individual is returning from an absence of one year or longer. A lengthy absence from the U.S. raises the question of whether or not residence has been abandoned. If it is determined that residence was abandoned, then the former resident will be ineligible to enter the U.S. without first obtaining new visa status. The former resident may be required to go through the entire immigration process again in order to become a resident.

Simply returning to the U.S. every year does not guarantee that resident status will not be considered abandoned. While such frequent returns to the U.S. give a colorable claim to readmission as a returning resident, abandonment may be established after considering a number of different factors. The question of abandonment always raises the question of the individual’s intent, and intent is difficult to prove with objective documentation. Factors that are considered when trying to show someone’s intent include:

  • Whether U.S. taxes continue to be filed, and were filed as a resident or as a nonresident;
  • Whether a domicile and/or personal effects are kept in the U.S.;
  • Whether funds have been kept in the U.S.;
  • Whether family members remain in the U.S.;
  • Whether the period abroad was for education, an employment assignment, a U.S. military assignment, or otherwise in the service of the U.S. government;
  • Whether the individual remained abroad longer than expected due to illness, death in the family, etc.

See also…

Green Card Issues